Former Liverpool and England striker Robbie Fowler said on Saturday that preparing new club East Bengal for their first season in the Indian Super League during the coronavirus pandemic will be a supreme challenge but has promised to give everything to make the club successful.
Fowler joined East Bengal as head coach on Friday after managing Australia’s Brisbane Roar last season.
All 11 ISL teams are currently confined to separate bio bubbles before the start of the league expected to start in November behind closed doors.
“It’s a new club with a hundred-year-old heart. I and the staff around me will give everything to make the club successful,” Fowler told reporters from his home in Liverpool.
“No doubt, it will be a challenge for football in the world to get going again in such situations and circumstances, we need to adapt,” he added.
“We will be sensible in our approach. We are here to do our work whether we are in a bubble or not. We will do everything to make the players as comfortable as possible.”
East Bengal were last month named as the 11th side in the growing ISL which in seven years of existence has become the country’s top football competition. The lack of preparedness due to the delay in the formation of the team is going to test Fowler’s ability as a coach to the fullest.
“We know we are a bit late but no stone will be left unturned. This just means we need to work that much harder on the training ground. That is what we have such a good team [of coaching staff] for. The players need to know that we are here to do a job, to do the very best we can do. We know it’s going to be difficult but we will have the team working hard,” he was quoted as saying by ESPN.in
Fellow Britons Phil Brown, coach at Hyderabad, and ex-Burnley boss Owen Coyle, now at Jamshedpur, are also in charge of ISL teams.
Fowler, who ended his playing career in 2012, coached at Muangthong United in Thailand before moving to Liverpool’s academy in 2013 and then Brisbane last year where he stayed until the pandemic halted play in March.
He said his experience of building teams across the globe gives him the confidence to get the best out of East Bengal, based in Kolkata, the hub of Indian football.
“We have had a history where we have built a team which struggled and made them successful over in Australia,” said Fowler, who is expected to join East Bengal within a week.
“We know we can do it. It is a challenge we can’t wait to start,” he added.
Fowler’s Brisbane side were a defensively tight unit and the former Liverpool striker has suggested that he will focus on getting the right results at East Bengal.
“We want to be competitive, play the right way and get good results. Football is fundamentally about getting good results,” he said.
“We want to be a possession-based team - and we have done this before. We took a team [Brisbane Roar] that was second-last and made them competitive. In terms of stats, we were by far better than most other teams in the A-league,” he added.
“We are going to make them enjoy football. We know the history, we know the traditions, we know the values and we’re here to adhere to them. We will leave a legacy where every youngster in Calcutta wants to wear the red and gold,” he continued.
The ISL season is expected to begin behind closed doors in Goa in November.
(With AFP inputs)