EAST BENGAL have started their transfer business with small but steady steps as they signed three more Indian players on Friday.
Among those who signed was Babu Mondal, who put up an impressive performance playing for Tollygunge Agragami in the last edition of Calcutta Football League. Also, Jagannath Sana, a goalkeeper from Tata Football Academy who earned accolades for his spell at Bhawanipore FC, signed for the Red and Golds as well. The third signing of the day was right back Avinabo Bag who has played in I-League first division for Pailan Arrows, and second division for Kochi's Eagles FC. Definitely the most experienced of the newly signed trio, he also played in the Indian Super League for Kerala Blasters, making 4 appearances in the showpiece tournament's inaugural season.
Playing for East Bengal will certainly be a step up for all these players, and the Red and Golds staff will have a job in their hand to groom them for the ever more competitive top division football. And the club is still searching for the best man to take charge of that responsibility.
After parting with Dutch coach Eleco Schattorie, East Bengal are in the market for a new head coach for their first team. The two candidates for the job most discussed in the media in the last week were two ex East Bengal coaches, Subhash Bhowmick and Steven James Morgan, who coached Mohun Bagan and Dempo for parts of the 2014-15 season. Under Morgan, Dempo went through the second relegation from first division I-League in their history. Bhowmick failed to lead Mohun Bagan to Calcutta Football League or Bhutan's Kings Cup triumph but many suggest he formed the base of the team that would, with some enhancements, go on to become the I-League champions.
But reports suggest that a third candidate has joined the race. Derrick Pereira, a heavyweight name in the Indian coaching circuit, is supposed to be in talks with East Bengal officials for the coaching job. In the 2014-15 season he coached Salgaocar, who after being in a fierce 5-club relegation fight till the very last round, finished 7th in the I-League. Pereira has had long, successful spells at various top division clubs. He coached Vasco from 2000 to 2005, then moved on Mahindra United, where he remained till the 2008-09 season. During that time he won the I-League (2006), Federation Cup (2005) and Durand Cup (2008). He joined Pune FC in June of 2009 and oversaw a crucial phase where the club set up its remarkable academy and youth squad. In 2013 he moved to Salgaocar, and in spite of the tough I-League season, he delivered them the Durand Cup in 2014.
Pereira, who as a player spent his best years at Salgaocar, is known as a methodical coach with a penchant for winning silverware, and he may be just the man East Bengal need. History shows, whenever Mohun Bagan win the national league, East Bengal put up a fierce fight in the following season to get back at their arch rivals. In fact, the last two times Mohun Bagan have won the league, East Bengal have won it the very next season. Right now the number of league titles stands at 3 for the Red and Golds, while Mohun Bagan have just raised their tally to 4.
There's no doubt the 2015-16 will see a big push for the title from East Bengal. Whether or not Derrick Pereira will be the one to spearhead it remains to be seen.