ATK sacked Teddy Sheringham in the aftermath of the 3-0 defeat at the hands of FC Pune City. The former Tottenham striker’s managerial statistic at the club read: 12 points accumulated from 10 matches of which six were away fixtures.
The idea was to improve their season and hope that they could at least put up a fight to make it into the top four. There are teams who have improved massively in the second half of the season such as Jamshedpur FC and to an extent, Kerala Blasters.
The Sourav Ganguly co-owned club asked Ashley Westwood, who was the technical director, to fill in as the head coach. It is believed that the Kolkata franchise were allowed to keep Westwood at the helm for only three games and thereafter, name another marquee coach. However, the club’s plea was heard and Westwood was allowed to carry on as the coach for the rest of the campaign.
Westwood is one of the most respected coaches in the Indian football circuit given the success he has enjoyed with Bengaluru FC in their first three years. However, not much has changed with regards to the Kolkata team’s fortunes since he has taken charge either.
The Red and White brigade have picked up only a point from five matches in the comforts of their home soil.
Injuries and poor form of players hasn’t helped. But the point is these were the issues faced by Sheringham as well. And if Westwood too hasn’t been able to change the tide, it suggests a deeper problem. Unlike David James and Avram Grant, who were not involved with Kerala Blasters or NorthEast United at the start of the season, Westwood has been part of the ATK set-up since day one. In that case, he knew the players having played a huge role in their recruitment - whether it be Indians or foreigners. Hence, one would expect better output from the former Penang FA coach. Also there was no fresh perspective to the team after Sheringham's exit as Westwood too was part of the set-up.
If the club has shoddy players, part of the blame must also be shouldered by Westwood as much as by Sheringham. When Westwood was asked about who brought in the foreign players, he said, "It was a collective decision."
Amongst all the ISL teams, ATK’s eight foreigners had one of the highest game-time in the previous season. This indicates that ideally, they would have been in a physically sound condition before coming to ATK.
However, too many muscle injuries to their foreign contingent came to hurt them. Among Indians, Eugeneson Lyngdoh picked up an injury in the third game, Jayesh Rane missed the opening four matches. Anwar Ali has been in an out, the same goes for Shankar Sampingiraj. Ashutosh Mehta too was injured at the start of the campaign. Nallapan Mohanraj is yet to play a single minute. Robin Singh also suffered an injury.
Interestingly, even the replacements they signed for foreign players such as David Cotterill has spent more time on the sidelines than on the field. Ryan Taylor too has been injured.
Marquee signing Robbie Keane has been a massive disappointment. Unlike other foreign players, he has spent more time back home in Europe than in Kolkata.
The point is if injuries was the primary reason for the poor run of results, why get rid of Sheringham or what benefit has his sacking served?
Westwood's ardent fans may suggest that their performances have improved however, in professional football it’s the results that matter. So far in ATK’s case, that hasn’t fructified.
The club needs to plan their season much better as opposed to what has transpired this time around. ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’ holds true in their case.