Inspired by Jugen Klopp, East Bengal manager Robbie Fowler ropes in a set-piece coach, a first in Indian football

Written by Mihir Vasavda
| New Delhi |

October 30, 2020 12:09:08 am

East Bengal manager Robbie Fowler (Reuters/File)

After being in a rut for many years, East Bengal, one in every of India’s oldest football membership, is innovating. And on the helm is a manager who discovered inspiration in Liverpool’s Premier League-winning marketing campaign final season.

As the Reds’ juggernaut rolled on, what caught Robbie Fowler’s consideration was a delicate behind-the-scenes change at his former membership. Jurgen Klopp, he seen, had employed a coach just for throw-ins. “Someone primarily who will look after throw-ins,” Fowler repeats, in awe of Klopp’s consideration to element. So immense, and speedy, was the impression of this that Fowler, a Liverpool legend who was the manager of Brisbane Roar on the time, puzzled why nobody else adopted go well with.

So, when East Bengal appointed him because the manager earlier this month for his or her Indian Super League (ISL) debut, Fowler promptly introduced on board a specialist, Terence McPhillips, not only for throw-ins but additionally free kicks and corners.

Terence McPhillips can be East Bengal’s set-piece coach. 

McPhillips would be the Red-and-Golds’ ‘set-piece coach’, a new breed of specialists who focus totally on getting ready gamers for dead-ball conditions, that are more and more changing into a approach to rating targets. “We know set pieces are important … you look at the stats of goals for and goals against. We need to try and use that to our advantage. So the set-piece coach will look at throw-ins, corners and free-kicks both for and against,” Fowler, 45, tells The Indian Express.

This is the first time an Indian membership will make use of a set-piece coach, which continues to be an evolving function globally. Manchester City and Arsenal are among the many few prime groups in Europe, who’ve a dead-ball specialist in their teaching employees. It isn’t shocking to see two Premier League sides warm-up to this idea, provided that set-pieces have largely been seen as an English method to the sport.

And by extension, an Englishman introducing the concept in the Indian league, which has an awesome Spanish affect, is comprehensible.

But Fowler insists East Bengal is not going to be a crew that ‘will primarily look for set-pieces’. He desires his crew to play possession football, with fast, brief passes and create intricate triangles.


To improve his concepts, the previous Liverpool striker, who was twice named manager of the month in the A-League this yr, spent a lot of time throughout the lockdown watching a completely different sport – hockey.

Football has a lengthy historical past of taking a look at hockey for tactical inspiration. Fowler says he noticed a lot of worldwide video games, together with the FIH Pro League matches in The Netherlands, and was amazed at how swiftly the gamers interchanged positions, handed the ball and created areas.

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“The speed at which they move the ball, I know it’s a different ball… we can take a little bit of inspiration. If you are moving the ball quicker, then it takes the opposition a little bit out of their comfort zone, create pockets of space and you can capitalize that way,” Fowler says.

“From a defensive point of view, you get a lot of bodies trying to not concede a goal. You look at the fitness and work ethic of these teams, it is really, really good. This is what we want to do.”

Whether Fowler has the time and assets – in phrases of high quality of gamers – to execute his imaginative and prescient is a completely different query. East Bengal’s last-minute entry in the ISL means they’d little time to assemble a squad, and even much less to apply collectively. Fowler continues to be in quarantine at a lodge in Goa and can have nearly three weeks to arrange for a five-month season.

Maybe that is the place his crew of specialists must step-up: assistant coach Anthony Grant, who has had a lengthy profession in football first as a participant after which a coach; former India captain Renedy Singh, together with his in-depth information about Indian gamers, the circumstances in Goa and intel on different ISL groups; goalkeeping coach Robert ‘Bobby’ Mimms, who was earlier related to Jamshedpur FC and ATK; Michael Harding, the first crew physio of Newcastle United and ‘who was running on the pitch in the Premier League last year’.

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Fowler provides, “To get him (Harding) as a part of my team was a real coup. It was a tough conversation getting him in but obviously, once he found out what’s happening, he was massively on board.”

But it’s McPhillips’s fairly unconventional function as a set-piece coach that can increase curiosity. Fowler sees specialised teaching roles getting extra widespread in the years to come back as managers battle for ‘a little bit of advantage’ on the sphere.

“So why can’t we go down the way of looking for something a little different, something out of the ordinary,” Fowler wonders. “Maybe, in terms of doing it in India, I am a bit of a pioneer.”

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