Robbie Fowler: Playing in East Bengal jersey a huge responsibility

With no points after two matches, East Bengal will be looking to open their ISL 2020-21 account against NorthEast United FC.

By Utathya Nag ·

Despite a poor start to the Indian Super League (ISL) season, East Bengal head coach Robbie Fowler remains confident that with time and determination, the team can turn things around this campaign.

Yet to register a point in ISL 2020-21, Robbie Fowler’s East Bengal are languishing at the bottom of the ISL points table after two matches.

The Red and Golds, making their ISL debut, lost 2-0 to rivals ATK Mohun Bagan in the Kolkata Derby in their first outing before falling to a 3-0 to Mumbai City FC in the next.

“This is a huge club and when you put that red-and-gold shirt on, you take on a massive responsibility,” Robbie Fowler said before East Bengal’s third match against NorthEast United FC on Saturday.

“This is applicable for all our players, regardless of whether they are Indians or foreigners. We’re happy with the squad and the players will get better with time. We have each other’s back,” Fowler added.

After their loss to the Islanders, Robbie Fowler indicated he was expecting more from some of the Indian players in the squad. The former Liverpool legend went to clarify that his post-match comments were more indicative of the potential he sees in his Indian contingent rather than criticism.

“I obviously didn't mean to disrespect anyone. There are a lot of good Indian players, but their understanding of the game can always be better. We have a certain philosophy and we’re trying to get all our players accustomed to it.

“It means lots of hours on the training pitch trying to get them to do fundamentally what is right for us as a team. There are talented players, very good technically gifted players but players sometimes need a better understanding of the game,” Fowler clarified.

East Bengal’s late entry in the ISL prompted the management to put together a team at the last minute, leaving Robbie Fowler with little preparation time for the tournament. The Englishman, though, is happy with his squad.

“Once our players get up to speed—I think we have signed the best foreigners. Matti Steinman has been absolutely excellent in the games. Pilks (Anthony Pilkington) and Jacques Maghoma are playing okay but not the level they want to be just yet. But we are happy with them,” he stated.

East Bengal players have looked off the pace in their first two ISL matches. Photo: ISL Media

Fowler, though, will be without captain Danny Fox against NorthEast after the centre back was forced off the field against Mumbai City after picking up an early injury.

“Obviously, it’s not ideal to lose your captain who is one of your better players, but you’ve got to accept it and move forward. That said, somebody will have to step up to fill in the void,” Fowler noted.

Against NorthEast, who are undefeated this season, East Bengal will be up against it in their bid to register their first points of the season.

“They have a young manager with an organised defence and a solid attacking force at their disposal. Look, it's going to be a tough challenge for us, but that’s the case with every game,” Fowler concluded.