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The Purple brigade had a poor I-League campaign which saw them finishing in the bottom half of the table. Goal’s Atanu Mira reflects and gives his verdict…

 Atanu Mitra
 COMMENT | I-League
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Goal in its end of season special analyses the performance of all the teams in India's top flight and in this piece, we focus on United Sports Club.

United Sports Club

Expectation : After the chit fund scam, Prayag Group ceased to be the main sponsor which put the club officials in the dock. Despite no financial backing, several players chose to stay with the club in the hope that a new sponsor would be roped in, something which never translated into reality.

They started their pre-season a month late owing to their financial struggles and hence their sole of the season was to surive the drop.

Result : They started their I-League campaign positively with bagging back-to-back victories against newbies Rangdajied United and Sporting Club de Goa and suffered only one defeat in their first 11 matches. After the Federation Cup, coach Eelco Schattorie parted ways with the club and so did Ranti Martins and CK Vineeth. Though Subrata Bhattacharya was called upon to save the team from getting relegated, their struggle was highlighted in a winless streak of 13 matches.

A win in the penultimate match against Churchill Brothers ensured that the Kolkata side wouldn't get relegated. The finished their season with 26th points from 24 matches and sealed the tenth spot on the ladder.

The Coach : Schattorie did well to keep the spirit of the squad despite the financial stuggles. With Martins not being in the best of form and most of his players not having undergone a pre-season training, fitness was the key issue.

Under Schattorie, the club kept the ball well and were known for their attacking brand of football. When Bhattacharya took over as the technical director, his focus was to be defensive and hence, the club only managed one win in nine games.

Where it went wrong
: Though the players were happy to continue playing for the side despite having no assurance about the wages, the fact that the officials failed to find a sponsor over the length of the season certainly didn’t help much to lift the team’s morale. The star players like Ranti Martins and C.K.Vineeth left the squad in the winter break, and their replacements weren't of the adequate standard.

Another major problem was the change in management as Subrata Bhattacharya tried to implement a playing style alien to the team.

Top 3 Performances

1. Churchill Brothers 0-2 United Sports Club

2. United Sports Club 3-2 Churchill Brothers

3. Dempo SC 1-2 United Sports Club

Top Player of the Season
Eric Brown
Eric scored the goals that mattered

Eric Brown was undoubtedly the best foreigner in Kolkata football this year as he not only stuck with a struggling side, but also played a pivotal role in their fight to stay afloat. The Liberian scored in four of the five matches United won in this edition of the I-League, while emerging as the highest scoring midfielder as well. He banked heavily on his dribbling skills that helped him glide past the defenders, while his uniquely hit flat free-kicks also rattled the woodwork on numerous occasions. His best moment in the league came against Churchill Brothers when he scored a brace to grab the bragging rights in a relegation six-pointer.

Flop Player of the Season
Anupam Sarkar

Anupam dazzled at moments, but was often off-colour

Though it maybe deemed a little harsh to name Sarkar as the flop of the season, it is a fact that he was the worst performer among the regular first-team members. The former East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting defender excelled in patches, but his usual faux-pas in a few matches leaked a number of goals. Despite playing regularly alongside Bello Rasaq throughout the season, he crumbled in the crunch situations, much to the ecstasy of the rivals.

Our team is facing financial problems. Nobody got their salaries for the last eight months"

- Ananta Ghosh