Before you get any ideas, Mohun Bagan are not champions of the continent. They are also not a team which has the likes of Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres playing for them, nor do they have an owner like Roman Abramovich.
Mohun Bagan can still be compared to Chelsea in one way: they are a trigger-happy club when it comes to firing managers. And both teams are probably the hardest to manage in their respective leagues.
In fact, they can be termed as even more ruthless than the English club. While Chelsea have fired seven managers since 2003, Mohun Bagan have overseen the departure of an incredible nine managers in just over three seasons.
Firstpost spoke to their latest fall-guy Santosh Kashyap, and he admits that managing any club in Kolkata is the toughest job in Indian football: "I won't point at one club and say it's the hardest job. I think managing any club in Kolkata is a massive challenge. And it's not because of the management... they are great people. It's just that the fan pressure is so high that it becomes impossible to manage them without pressure."
Maybe the job is jinxed?
"I wouldn't go as far as to say it's jinxed. The fans are crazy about winning every match and the fact that the media adds fuel to this fire is the main cause for so many sackings."
And like any other club, the head coach/manager is the guy who pays for bad results. "Agar fans Chappal-joote-pathhar maarenge management ko (If fans hurl slippers and stones at the management), then what can they do? You have to feel for them too and then I had to sacrifice my position as coach. That's why I resigned. The management needs to stay strong in such cases because apart from this, it's a great club to manage."
In 2009-10 — Karim Bencherifa, Satyajit Chatterjee and Biswajit Bhattacharya tried managing the club. In 2010-11, Stanley Rosario and Shubhash Bhowmick lost their jobs and 2011-12, it was Steve Darby, Subrata Bhattacharya and Prashant Banerjee tried their luck, but in vain. Santosh Kashyap recently resigned after three months in charge of the team— after just two league games.
Seeing the trend, didn't he already know what he was going into?
"The policy is simple: every coach wants to manage a top side. After avoiding relegation with Air India, when Mohun Bagan came calling, how could I refuse the job? It could happen to any coach who wants to rise in his career. But I don't have any regrets... I learnt a lot during my time there and it has taught me how to handle extreme pressure."
Such is the obsession with Bagan that fans even turn up in thousands to watch practice sessions and matches. With Kashyap clearly one of the younger and more progressive coaches, we asked him whether there were any offers on the table.
"There are a few offers, but I'm waiting for something better," quips the 46-year-old.
With three league titles, 13 Federation Cups and 15 Durand Cups, Mohun Bagan are without a doubt one of the most illustrious clubs in Indian football. But they need to rethink their strategy, come down to a realistic expectation. Because these are the years that will shape how they are remembered: as a club that won so much glory, or as a club who are merciless in letting their managers leave.
Published Date: Oct 30, 2012 11:36 am | Updated Date: Oct 30, 2012 11:36 am