August 2, 2021

‘Plenty of points to play for’ – Robbie Fowler feels East Bengal are in the race for the playoffs

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The former England international thought that Kerala Blasters showed East Bengal ‘massive respect’ in their last game…

Robbie Fowler believes that East Bengal are in the race for the playoffs in their debut Indian Super League (ISL) season.

The Red and Golds are currently ninth on the table with 11 points from as many games. Following a 1-1 draw against Kerala Blasters on Friday, they are now on an unbeaten run of six games that began with a 1-1 draw against the same opponents in December. 

“The cut off is when it is mathematically impossible [for East Benga] to get there (top four). We are on an unbeaten run at the moment. So there are plenty of positives. Of course, we need wins but I think it’s five points between us and the teams going for fourth place. There are lots of points to play for. We have that belief to do what we need to do,” said the Englishman.

Kerala Blasters managed to keep Bright Enobakhare and Matti Steinmann quiet and Fowler believes that teams are showing them respect.

“Bright and Matti have been excellent. When they are on top of their game, there are not many better players in the ISL. What I can say about the last game is that Kerala made it really hard and that for me showed a massive amount of respect (for East Bengal). 

“It’s up to those players (Bright and Matti) now to live up to their set standards and when you don’t live up to the standards you have set in the previous games, people will ask questions. I understand that but there’s certainly no problem with them.”

In the last four games, East Bengal have gathered eight of the available 12 points during a period of two weeks. Fowler feels that a break could hamper their momentum.

“We are probably a team who are on the unfortunate end of playing many games in (quicker) succession than many teams. It’s not ideal but maybe we are a momentum team who probably needs these games. Maybe if we get a little bit of rest, it will be to our disadvantage,” he felt.

East Bengal also took five games to score their first goal in the ISL and have since scored in every game but kept just one clean sheet in seven games. “Our defence has been good. People have been asking questions about the forwards. All of a sudden we score goals and it’s the defence” quipped the East Bengal manager. 

“We’re a big club. So if people want to ask those questions, I suppose it’s my job to give them silly answers. Yeah, we want to get clean sheets but sometimes you need to give the opposition a bit of credit,” he continued. 

“For us, we have taken baby steps to get us to believe where we should be and want to be. We gotta keep going. We gotta do what we need to do, and the important thing is let’s not lose games. That’s what we’re trying to do – not lose games. Obviously, the next objective is to try to win games and climb up the table.”