ONE WEEK AFTER WINNING the I-League, there is mutiny brewing in the Mohun Bagan camp. They have already lost two valuable players, and there are indications more could be on their way out, and the list may just include their coach; Sanjay Sen.
On the outside the celebrations are still going on. The players and staff, those that are still in Kolkata, are being pampered to death. Fans clubs and communities from around the city are organizing felicitation ceremonies and victory parties for them; and they are also being invited to important social occasions. It was at one such occasion – a blood donation camp in Chetala – that Sanjay Sen lashed out at officials when journalists asked him about the departure of two of his foreign players.
“The officials are utterly incompetent,” he said. “They think all the work is done now that the team has become the champions. It's attitudes like this that has kept Mohun Bagan away from the league title for 13 years.”
Sen's rage comes not without reason. Within a day of returning to Kolkata with the trophy, Cameroonian striker Pierre Boya, nicknamed 'Pivot' by his teammates for his role in building up attacks and maintaining a supply line between flanks, declared he would not play for Mohun Bagan next season, citing the officials' greed to take all the credit for the triumph and indifference to the players who actually won it for them. Days later, Nigerian defender Bello Rasaq, who scored the all-important last minute goal at Bengaluru to win the league for Mohun Bagan, also left the Mariners, that too for their arch rivals East Bengal. This double blow at a time when it is crucial to build a better team to take on the competition at Asian level was enough to provoke open criticism from Sanjay Sen. He even said, if East Bengal were to offer the position of their coach to him, he'd be compelled to sit down and consider it.
Immediately, rumours spread around the Maidan that East Bengal have placed an offer to Sanjay Sen to become their coach. It is not unlikely for East Bengal to do such a thing; both the rival clubs from Kolkata have directly or indirectly wrecked each others' set teams multiple times in the past. And the Red and Golds have showed a lot of intent to best Mohun Bagan in the upcoming season. East Bengal are also facing the chance to equal their own record of winning the Calcutta Football League six times in a row. The long-running, competitive local league, that also serves as an effective testing ground for young and upcoming players, is all set to take place between August and September. East Bengal have won the last 5 editions (2010-2014). They won it six times in a row in the early '70s (1970-1975) and matching that feat will be a prestigious addition to the club's long list of achievements.
For Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, the next season has high stakes, and the chips are all down. Right now both will try to upset each other's team building as much as possible to gain an advantage over them even before the the season starts. And history has shown that both camps are more than willing to play dirty. If Sanjay Sen does the unthinkable by leaving Mohun Bagan for East Bengal, it will be a masterstroke of epic proportions, and the perfect way for the Red and Golds to announce themselves as title contenders in the 2015-16 season. Whether this move actually takes place or not, the resentment between two rival clubs is at an all time high, and come August when the CFL kicks off, we'll have one fierce battle in our hands.