East Bengal have always been amongst the highest spenders in the transfer market. But barring a handful of their foreign recruitments, playing first time in India, most have failed to live up to expectations. And in the domestic league, it is the quality of the overseas contingent which usually makes the difference.
After handing over the reins of the club to Alejandro Menendez, the management stuck to the plan provided by the coach and handpicked the players only after getting a go-ahead from the man at the helm of affairs. After signing Borja Gomez who paired well with Jhonny Acosta, they had two solid centre-backs who are tight at the back and complement each other. Jaime Santos has been prolific in the attacking third whereas Enrique Esqueda turned into a game-changer for the Red and Golds on many occasions.
It must also be noted that due to irregularities in the transfer of Sukhdev Singh, carried out of by the erstwhile officials in charge, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) imposed a transfer embargo which prevented the club from signing the sixth foreigner until December 1. Things could have panned out differently if the sixth foreigner was available much earlier as they lost three successive matches during this period.
Most coaches would have been fired after losing three matches on the trot but the management showed maturity and allowed Menendez to continue working on the project that he had undertaken. The trust bestowed on the coach ultimately paid dividends as East Bengal roared back into the title race and challenged Chennai City until the final matchday. The Spaniard has been given a free hand in terms of footballing matters and the two-year extension is a further reflection of the belief the decision-makers have on the coach.
The decision to travel to Malaysia in pre-season was another positive step advocated by Menendez and backed by Quess. It was for the first time that East Bengal travelled overseas for preseason. The month-long camp helped the tactician to know his players well and the practice matches that they played only beefed their preparation for the league campaign.
Club CEO Sanjit Sen has repeatedly emphasized that they would equally focus on youth development and the fact that East Bengal's reserve side, comprising mostly of junior players, clinched the Darjeeling Gold Cup testifies that those are not empty promises.
With East Bengal looking to play the ISL next season, the Quess officials have ensured that the club is heading in the right direction.