In the season 1999-2000, they played 22 games in the National Football League, won only one and lost thirteen games, stood 12th between 12 teams and got relegated. I ncidentally Mohun Bagan won the National football League that year. But they came back – and the next ruled Indian Football in the next decade.
Quick status –
Federation Cup – 1
Derand Cup – 1
National Football League / iLeague – 5
A relegation and what a come back. but what’s behind this amazing success ? There have been allegations that they have got benefits from the match officials – Churchill Brothers, Mohun Bagan, Salgaokar and even Kingfisher East Bengal- who comes second in this allegation – were at the receiving end. But there are more than just getting benefits – for Dempo is the only Indian Club to play AFC Cup in 2008.
If Dempo can- why can’t Mohun Bagan?Why is Bagan’s performance declining at the domestic level?
1. Player retention – While Bagan has new faces in the midfield and defense almost every year – Dempo seldom has new sign-ins for the first XI. The players are playing with each other for years – and they know exactly the positions of their team mates off and with the ball. That helped them a lot as a team.
There has been much talk of replacements of agin players like Deepak, Marcos, Bhainchung or even Barreto. But Dempo has the same set of players for years – but there is a great dependency and their experience brought in success. Marcos and Deepak were missed after they were asked to go- and Bagan is yet to find a better replacement of Barreto.
Mohun Bagan officials must understand that each department – Goalkeeping, Defense, Midfield, Forward line – needs a leader. With Odafa in the team- Bagan still has a leader in the attacking third – but Surkumar and Nabi failed to guide Anwar and Kingshuk in the central defense. Deepak’s ability was missed badly.
Moreover there was no leader in the midfield – a Douglus or a Marcos was missed for last couple of years. Zewel, Masih, Snehasish , Lima have not shown their leadership capability.
Bagan officials must understand that by just changing the players or signing up new players does not help. A player takes time to settle down in a new environment- and once he settles down the officials bid him goodbye. This is not at all helping Bagan.
Moreover selection of foreign players are going against Bagan. Bagan had recruited Diamondstar, Storey, Muritala, Zeleny but none of them were retained in the team – and moreover none were eligible to play in any other Indian team. On the other hand like Sueoka, Beto, Chidi were not retained!
Not only retaining Ranty for years, Dempo also had recruited players like Koko Sakibo, Densill Theobald, Yusuke Kato that added values to the team.
2. Fitness – Dempo has lot of aged players like Climax Lawrence, Clifford Miranda, Sameer Naik, Mahesh Gawli, Selwyn Fernandes – but they tend to remain fit through out the season. Bagan had been facing fitness problems for last 3 years and the coaches hardly got a full team for the whole season. The players are running out of breath at the end of the game just because their pre-season conditioning was not done properly.
3. Use of Youth – Rowilson Rodrigues, Rowilson Rodrigues, Creson Antao,Godwin Franco, Joaquim Abranches were recruited young and have been playing very well in Dempo. Bagan failed to use young talents – Manish Maithani remains injured, Manish Vargav, Souvik Chakraborty does not get chances in crutial games. Only Rakesh, Kingshuk and Shilton are young talents who are regular but have fitness problems as well.
4. No heavy burden of expectation – When a player is recruited for Mohun Bagan – he is expected to perform in each and every game. Bagan has not got success in recent past and as a result expectations are very high for Asia’s one of the biggest fan based club. Players of Dempo definitely miss the fan followers but at the same time there not no burden of expectations. They don’t go down in the ground keeping in mind that a loss will lead to a broken windscreen of their cars!
The Bagan officials must sit with the players in the beginning of the season and talk about the expectations. They must clearly communicate to the members and fans of Mohun Bagan. A visionary management must be the shield to the players and help the players play with ease. They must not vitiate the ambinace of the dressing room that leads to a tension among the team members. Performance bonuses and insentives must be considered and announced by the club officials.
Dempo has been successful – Pune FC is quickly catching up. Though already late – Bagan officials still have time to rectify themselves. Make a team for 3 years- and success will be there for sure.