Sanjoy Sen put in his papers at the beginning of this year after Mohun Bagan lost 2-1 to a 10-man Chennai City FC at home. Thereafter, the club took little time in appointing Sankar Lal Chakraborty as the head coach. However, after over 20 days in his new role, it seems he has not brought any new ideas to the fore.
After downing East Bengal 2-0 in the high profile Kolkata derby, one would have expected the team to do much better than merely pick a point against Aizawl FC away from home.
Against Aizawl, it seemed as if Sen was calling the shots and not Chakraborty.
In the previous edition of I-League, Bagan's title dreams were dashed when they conceded from a late corner against Aizawl FC. It was only at that point Sen decided to go all guns blazing in attack.
The script could have been the same on Thursday as Mohun Bagan looked reluctant to take the initiative to get an opener and Chakraborty seemed content to play second fiddle and snatch a point away from home. Had Bagan not been awarded the penalty on the 78th minute, one wonders whether the Mariners would have squeezed a point for the first time in their third visit to the Mizoram capital.
It is beyond one's understanding why a team which had arguably played the best football in the whole season in their previous outing against their arch-rivals, would come up a tepid display in their next game against Aizawl, a team which looks far from being title contenders this time around. If they harboured any hopes of winning the title, Mohun Bagan should have looked to seize all three points from the game.
In their bid to score the opener, Aizawl played a high defensive line which left acres of spaces at the back. Chakraborty could have instructed his attackers to use that space but Bagan continued to stick to their primary plans and chose not to change their approach with respect to the situation.
It was surprising to find that the players had run out of gas towards the end of either half of play. This raises further questions on Samiran Nag, the physical trainer of Bagan, and whether letting Garcia leave at the end of the previous season was a mistake on the part of the officials.
Chesterpoul Lyngdoh, who came as a substitute to replace SK Faiaz, completely forgot his defensive duties on the right flank which allowed Leonce Dodoz to wreak havoc down the wings. Arijit Bagui was left seeking support from his team-mates for the last 30 minutes of the match as a result. A lackadaisical Lyngdoh was seen jogging back after he repeatedly lost possession.
But the Green and Maroon fans will take heart from the performance of their foreign contingent as defender Kingsley Eze and midfielder Cameron Watson stood out. Kingsley marshalled Bagan's back line throughout the 90 minutes and omnipresent in the defensive third with intelligent positioning.
The addition of Cameron Watson in midfield has made Bagan more compact at the centre of the park. The Australian is a gifted passer and, coupled with his abilites to break up play, is a huge asset for the Mariners.
"There is still a chance. In the past, we led by eight-nine points at this stage of the season but we failed to win. We won a point here and there is still a long way to go", said Chakraborty after the match to the press.
Indeed there is plenty of football left in the season, but Chakraborty needs to break out from the shadows of Sen who always believed that a point away from home was a positive result.
At least in Sen’s time at the club, their home record was impeccable. This season though, Bagan haven’t picked up as many points at home and hence, they need to make the matches on the road count