East Bengal have roped in Subhas Bhowmick in their support staff ahead of the Super Cup, and the club have said that he will work in combination with coach Khalid Jamil.
"Subhas is coming. It [the position] is not really one of a technical director, but he and Khalid will work together on the team. They will consult each other for games and hopefully develop a good working relationship. That's the idea," a senior club official told ESPN. Bhowmick has had three previous stints with East Bengal as head coach, with his run from 2002 to 2005 including victory in the invitational ASEAN championship in Indonesia in 2003.
Bhowmick was also the first coach to win back-to-back national league titles, with East Bengal winning the National Football League (NFL) in both 2003 and 2004, a feat matched in Indian football only by Armando Colaco and Dempo. Bhowmick's most recent stint as technical director of an I-League side saw Churchill Brothers win their second I-League crown in 2012-13.
Jamil, brought in to the East Bengal setup following his I-League triumph as Aizawl FC coach in 2017, failed to get East Bengal their first I-League title despite being among the four teams in the race on the last day. Jamil's East Bengal showed their destructive ability with displays like the 7-1 win over Chennai City but also highlighted their frailty with two Kolkata derby defeats to Mohun Bagan. Just like their crosstown rivals, East Bengal paid the price for dropping too many points - seven draws to go with eight wins for both teams - during the season.
Jamil, who had previously worked with Mumbai FC and made them a team that was able to stave off relegation despite operating on one of the lowest budgets in the league, was often criticised for not being attacking enough with the quality of players he had at East Bengal this season. This saw them begin the season with a 2-2 draw at home against Aizawl after leading 2-0, and in their penultimate game, they led Shillong Lajong 1-0 before needing to come back from 2-1 down to settle for a point.
Bhowmick, who doesn't have a professional 'A' license and thus can't be appointed coach, is nonetheless known to be an expert man manager and was largely responsible for moulding Bhaichung Bhutia into one of Indian football's modern greats during his time at East Bengal. The chemistry between Bhowmick and Jamil could be crucial to East Bengal's chances of putting the disappointment of the I-League behind at the Super Cup.
The club official ESPN spoke to also indicated that the club could be open to joining the Indian Super League (ISL) fold, though discussions on that hadn't begun just yet. "We are not thinking about that at the moment. We might discuss that after the Super Cup, depending on how the team performs," said the official.