Got to be patient and give players time: East Bengal FC head coach Constantine

East Bengal FC head coach Stephen Constantine was dissatisfied with the result as his team went down to Chennaiyin FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Friday. Vafa Hakhamaneshi's goal proved to be the difference as East Bengal suffered their fourth defeat of the season.

Constantine said his side faced problems while converting their chances and feels that his team should’ve been 1-0 up in the second half. The Englishman reinstated that the team needs to stay consistent and not panic, as they have the potential to turn around results. He further claimed that even though improvements are needed, they cannot just arrive in a matter of weeks. 

Here are some excerpts from Constantine’s post-match press conference:

Your team has faced back-to-back losses in the league. What do you think is the reason that the matches are not turning in your favor?

I'm not going to make excuses. We had a couple of good chances one-on-one with the goalkeeper, we scored one of them and we got to 1-0 in half-time. We need to take care in front of the goal and take our chances. In the second half, we were not very good. They scored a goal from the corner which is disappointing for us. They had a player sent off which gave us an advantage for 10-15 minutes but then we got one of our players sent off. You can't make those kinds of mistakes. Back-to-back losses, and a tough game coming up that can mean a third loss in a row. We've got to be patient and give players time but everybody is running out of time.

What are the remedies to help the team?

The remedies are that we have got to go back and work harder. It's my responsibility as the coach, we need to do things better. We need to take care of the ball better. We were doing that today. We were playing very deep, obviously, they are a big side. The solutions that we gave them at half-time worked in the second half. But we conceded that goal, and that's disappointing. The solution is we need to work harder and we need to make sure we have the right players in the right positions. We tried Aniket (Jadhav) up front, and we tried him wide. We can't say that it was successful. We tried to change the game by substitutions. The question is, did it change the game? I don't think it did, so I think that's also a problem.

You should've gone 2-0 up in the first half, what do you think is the problem with the forward line?

We worked to create those chances. We worked really hard in the training ground to get the ball wide and then cross it in, but when you have a player one-on-one with the goalkeeper twice or thrice, and they don't score, it's difficult to take. If we were not creating chances, I would be more worried. We lost a game now that we should have won. With our mindset, we want to win our home games, it's important. We didn't, we lost today, and (it's) okay. We move on, our next match is against Bengaluru FC, so we move on.

Your team has already played five matches and lost four games. Do you think you need to make changes in the team?

We lost to Kerala Blasters FC in the last 15 minutes, even though we played quite well. In the second game, we destroyed FC Goa in the second half and we lost 2-1. In the third game, we won. In the fourth game, we lost the derby, in those games, you can win, or you can lose. Today we lost, it was us, we lost this game. So, I don't think we are in bad shape, I don't think we are in the best form.

We are still working hard to try and change things. Last season, we won only one game all season, the season before that we won 3 games the whole season. We need to stay consistent. We need to stay committed and not panic. Suddenly, everybody wants to change all the players because they didn't score or they had a bad game. The players will have good games and bad games. Today we didn't play well in the second half.

One cannot say that we played badly in the first half, we created a couple of golden opportunities but we didn't take them so we're paying for those mistakes. I don't think we are a bad team, I think we need a lot of work. Of course, there's room for improvement and that's what we're trying to do, starting on Saturday.

That cannot be a consolation. What do you have to say?

I'm not saying it's a consolation. I'm giving you the facts because you seem to think that in three, four, or five games you go from zero to championship material. That doesn't happen in any league. We started very late and we got players that perhaps would not be playing in the other teams. We've got the players very late. We started preseason at the beginning of August, whereas everybody else had one month or two months of an advantage. These are no excuses. These are facts.

So, when you start late, you have to expect that there are going to be problems like I said from the very beginning. We are going to have more problems. But hopefully, we stay patient and will overcome those problems. But you cannot do that in one week, two weeks or three weeks, or even five weeks, especially with the start that we've had. It's not an excuse, it's a fact.

How do you keep them supporting the team and reassure them?

We know we've got to work hard. We know we've got to do better. We're trying very hard. Today, we lost the game that we could have won.You could say we could have won the second half against FC Goa. We had chances in the game with ATK Mohun Bagan to win the game in the first half, last week. We are making chances, we are just not taking them. So, I'm not going to press the panic button and say “Everyone must leave, we don't have the players!” or whatever. This is football. It's a league, the league finishes at the end of February. By then, let's see where we are.

Alex (Lima) played a very important part in the initial matches. Is his absence hurting your chances of winning games?

Alex got injured in the first minute of the second game with FC Goa. He carried on for 75 minutes. The following game, we won. The team played well and we played together. He has a small hamstring issue which is why he was not in the squad. But Alex is a very good player. We need all the players, foreign and Indian players. It’s not about one player.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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