The last time Subhash Bhowmick was in charge of East Bengal was in the year 2009. He took charge of a depleted East Bengal side at the beginning of 2009 and left the club within 10 months.
Since then, East Bengal have had 8 different coaches at the helm of affairs. From 2010-13, the club had some stability with Trevor James Morgan as their head coach but since his departure, the coaches kept coming and going.
Last year the club had appointed Khalid Jamil who was fresh from winning the I-League title with Aizawl FC. Jamil was brought on board with the hope that the Mumbai-based coach would replicate his success in Kolkata and bring home the elusive I-League title.
Khalid was off to a flying start by winning the Calcutta Football League (CFL). But obviously, his real test was the I-League. After a topsy-turvy season, the Red and Golds finished fourth in the league which meant yet another year of despair for the club faithful.
The former Mumbai FC coach’s final assignment with the club was the Super Cup where East Bengal finished runners-up losing 1-4 to Bengaluru FC in the final. The humiliating defeat at the hands of Bengaluru was the last straw as the club officials decided to terminate Khalid Jamil’s contract.
But was it all Khalid’s fault that East Bengal faltered yet again in the second half of the season? At the beginning of the season, the officials repeated the same mistake of appointing the head coach after the recruitment is over. While he did bring in several players he trusted, Khalid never got the opportunity to shape his squad.
Trinidad and Tobago international striker Willis Plaza was brought back after a disappointing outing with the club in the previous season. It was announced that Jamil wanted the striker at the club. As expected, Plaza had yet another terrible outing with the club and was released halfway through the I-League.
A total of nine overseas players had plied their trade with the club this season out of which only three players, Mahmoud Al Amna, Katsumi Yusa and Eduardo Ferreira delivered. Charles D’Souza, Armand Bazie and Willis Plaza were replaced by Ansumana Kromah, Dudu Omagbemi and Khalid Aucho midway. Aucho had joined just before the Super Cup which meant he played just one tournament. With an unstable foreign players’ roster, it was never an easy task for Jamil to deliver.
At the beginning of Jamil’s tenure, it was announced that a three-member technical committee comprising of former players like Manoranjan Bhattacharya, Bhaskar Ganguly and Tushar Rakshit will function and give suggestions to the coach.
But as the season progressed it became evident that Jamil never consulted the trio for any suggestion. This offended the club legends and they attacked the head coach on a public forum. But Khalid somehow managed to dodge that situation and went ahead with the team.
Then again, just after I-League, the club officials took the decision of clipping the coach’s wings and decided to appoint Subhash Bhowmick as the club’s technical director. Bhowmick initially took the upper hand and sidelined the coach but during Super Cup, it was Khalid who had the final word in the team.
This constant pressure mounted by the club officials and the recruitment of players before consulting the coach and below par foreign players in the squad is something Khalid Jamil had to deal with at East Bengal throughout the season.
The young Indian coach tried his level best with the limited resources and won the lion’s share of matches in the season. The club lost just four matches under Khalid Jamil but unfortunately, all those defeats came at the wrong moments which hampered the club’s chances of winning titles.
It must be said that Jamil still enjoys some support in the dressing room with Mahmoud Al Amna and Ubaid CK coming out in public to support the coach.