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The Liverpool legend knew the challenges he would face before coming to India …
“Not all great players are great coaches.” This is a very common notion that persists in the world of football and this phrase was repeated in East Bengal as soon as the club lost its first three matches in its first Indian Super League (ISL) season.
The Reds and Golds had named Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler to the helm prior to their ISL trip and there was a lot of excitement at the start of the season. But as soon as the season started, positivity gave way to criticism and negativity.
Fowler was heavily criticized from all corners for East Bengal’s poor early results, but what critics conveniently ignored was how East Bengal entered the country’s top league. Until September, East Bengal had no investor and it was almost confirmed that they were going to participate in the I-League.
The club’s participation in ISL was confirmed only when Shree Cement Limited was incorporated as an investor in the club. Everything happened in the eleventh hour including the completion of the template. Most importantly, head coach Robbie Fowler barely had time to prepare the team before the season started.
It should also be noted that the club did not have the choice of the Indian players, as the most prominent Indians had already signed for other ISL clubs before East Bengal’s participation was confirmed.
“I’ve said this before, how difficult it was in the beginning. The preseason was two weeks,” Robbie Fowler said. objective. “Two weeks for any club in the world, be it Manchester City, Manchester United or Liverpool, if they have two weeks to prepare for the season then it won’t start to work. What we did was use the first few games as pre-season games. I know that is not what people want to hear, but that is what we had to do and it is the situation we find ourselves in.
“This is a great traditionalist club with ideas and values that we all love but it was tough because this season the squad was built for the I-League and we cannot hide that fact. It was a club that was going to enter the I-League and Suddenly they put us in the ISL. We had to change our values as coaching staff and players. You go from one league to another and the ISL is a much tougher league. I’m not being disrespectful to the I-League but it’s me being realistic. “
Along with an average team, another thing that most critics don’t take into consideration is the abnormality of the current season affected by the pandemic. Teams are left in a bubble for nearly six months where, except to play matches and attend training sessions, no one can leave their hotels.
“From the outside, people might have thought we were bad, but we knew we weren’t. We all knew how difficult it was and I can’t stress enough how difficult it is to be in this environment. It’s probably the hardest thing someone would have to. do. It is an environment where you cannot leave or you cannot do something you want to do freely. We leave the hotel to train and play. That is the only thing you can do. We are in a lovely place hotel without a doubt but we cannot do anything other than that, “said the East Bengal coach.
Fowler also spoke about the challenges he faced at the beginning of the season, including changing the mindset of the players. He feels the efforts are slowly paying off now.
“We had to change the mentality of the players. We had our ideas and we knew what we had to do and it was very difficult in the beginning. But fortunately now people can start to see the fruits, while at first people were quick to get.” . on our backs and tell him he can’t be doing this, he can’t be doing that.
“Everything we have done is not because we are selfish people. It is because we want this club to be a successful club and we do not look for quick fixes. We wanted to grow gradually and be better. Everyone can see that we are progressing, we are competing against all teams from the ISL and we will continue to do so. “
Great Liverpool suggested that he had come prepared for a tough challenge in India and also set the example from his previous stint as a coach with Brisbane Roar of the A-League and how he and his coaching staff took a humble side in qualifying themselves. qualify for the AFC Champions League (ACL).
“I knew that things are not going to be all rosy. Nothing is easy. We need to work hard if we want to achieve great things. That is what we have always tried to do regardless of the people who gave us the stick, we knew we had To build something here, if you see last year, we took a team (Brisbane Roar) that struggled last year and we were competitive and we ended up getting into the AFC Champions League.
“We changed teams, we changed their beliefs, ideas and mentality and we became strong. That has been the plan also this year. We knew how difficult it was at the beginning.”
Fowler stressed the importance of being realistic and developing long-term rather than short-term solutions.
“We knew it was never going to be easy and that we had a chance to try to build again. Regardless of what people have said about me, no one can deny that last year we took a club that had problems the year before and we did. competitive “. This club, they are huge but they haven’t won the league in 17 years (the I-League), of course.
“When you are a club the size of East Bengal with a large fan base, people demand things. But as much as we demand things from the players, we have to be realistic. This is something that will not happen overnight. We know we have to develop and we do not look for quick solutions, we seek to develop, ”said the former England star.