The smile hasn’t left Stanley Rozario since touching down on Sunday night but on Tuesday morning it was possibly as much because of an essentially sunny disposition as it was due to a lively first practice session.
“We had a good time, some good shots… even the weather was just right,” East Bengal’s new coach said after an hour’s training at the SAI, Eastern Centre. Edmilson Marques’s comment as they posed for shutterbugs too contributed to the cheerful demeanour. “I had heard about your training sessions being good. Today, I saw it myself,” the Brazilian targetman was overheard as saying in English that has significantly improved over the past one year.
Practice had ended for the rest but a little distance from where Rozario met reporters, Subrata Pal — mudcaked — kept flying out to grip double-handed whatever goalkeepers’ coach Debasish Mukherjee hurled at him, each collection followed by a grunt of satisfaction. “He has to work hard to stay where he is,” Rozario said of Pal.
Questions ranged from first impressions to the need to bolster central midfield and though the former India assistant coach took them all, the need for a little more time before he could get down to specifics was clear in every answer.
Between beautiful and effective football though, Rozario is sure what he would choose. “Attractive football means getting the galleries to applaud. That’s great but what happens if it doesn’t get you results. Any team would like to win and so would I… So, I would prefer attacking football with a compact defence,” he said.
Of the last part he is well known — mentioning how his Army XI frustrated teams on way to the Durand Cup title still gets Rozario to smile three years after it happened. Asked if he was looking at shoring up East Bengal’s backline, the coach mentioned M. Suresh not being here before saying: “It would be pointless merely stressing on that now. We need to win, we don’t need a mentality where boys start playing for a draw.”
Rozario again spoke of the need to look into whether East Bengal were losing it in the mind. “The boys need to play for each other, feel for each other. If they do that, we will do well," he said. Asked if East Bengal’s central midfield needs reorientation, Rozario spoke about pairing an aggressive midfielder paired with a sensible one. “We’ll need to work on that,” he said. The coach also spoke about the lack of height of East Bengal’s central midfielders.
So would Yusif Yakubu, for whom too Tuesday morning was a first training session after, be the ‘sensible’ player with Mehrajuddin Wadoo being the ‘aggressive’ one? Rozario said that is an option.
“Yakubu has the talent and the experience and could be considered. We will anyway have to find out in what role he can best serve the team," he said. Over the next few days we will know.