East Bengal coach Rivera says former coach Menendez destroyed club

East Bengal coach Mario Rivera, who took over from Alejandro Menendez in January, is confident of being retained for the upcoming I-League season.

East Bengal

Mario Rivera took charge of East Bengal after Alejandro Menendez's departure in January.   -  AIFF Media

East Bengal’s Spanish coach Mario Rivera, who took over from Alejandro Menendez in January, is confident of retaining his position for the next season.

“I’m taking part in the decisions and I gave them my suggestions about Indian players. They have told me they want me for the next season and I always trust the ‘word’ of the people and I respect it,” said the 42-year-old.

Rivera, who worked as Menendez’s deputy for 32 games in the 2018-19 season, was brought in as a replacement for the Spaniard after East  Bengal began 2020 with a hat-trick of losses, including a 1-2 derby debacle which led to the outster of Menendez.

RELATED| Quess parts ways with East Bengal citing COVID-19 pandemic

Rivera said Menendez, a former Real Madrid B team coach, had ‘destroyed’ East Bengal.

“I don’t know what he did, I know I found a team destroyed, without confidence and under big pressure. It was impossible to know after 3-4 practice sessions, I was surprised because I said to myself these players are much better than the position in the table is saying. No one knows what had happened.”

- Club in transition -

Bangalore-based Quess Corp, which was East Bengal’s title sponsor, has terminated all existing contracts by implementing ‘Force Majeure’ clause in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

But that has not stopped the club as East Bengal has gone on a signing spree and recently signed Bikash Jairu, Cavin Lobo and Sehnaj Singh.  The side had earlier signed Iranian Omid Singh along with the Indians -- Shankar Roy, Balwant Singh, and Novin Gurung.

RELATED| East Bengal signs Sehnaj Singh, Bikash Jairu and Cavin Lobo

“It’s a difficult time to make a team because COVID-19 has changed many things. I think the teams that will keep almost the same squad from last season will have a big advantage at the start,” Rivera said.

Citing the example of fellow Spaniard and reigning I-League-winner Kibu Vicuna, he said: “The recipe for a good coach is hard work plus confidence of management in him. I’m so excited to think to start a new season with all the knowledge of this two seasons of Indian football, I really would like to do it.”

RELATED| Asked everyone to be patient to see results - Mohun Bagan's I-League winning coach Vicuna

He said Mohun Bagan trusted a good coach after a bad season and the result was for all to see. “They trusted in a good coach, not a famous former footballer, and they gave him the power to take decisions, he chooses good players, made hard work and got a good result. I’m very resilient, to be a coach need to have a big capacity to adapt.”

- ISL will benefit from East Bengal's arrival -

On the side's bid to join the Indian Super League, he said the franchise league will get some tradition and prestige by East Bengal's addition. “India needs to improve its football level and a better ISL will be better for it. If East Bengal plays in ISL, it will increase tournament’s prestige.”

RELATED| ISL needs East Bengal, says Bhaichung Bhutia

He also spoke about the resumption of football post COVID-19 and insisted that it cannot happen without the fans.

“I think football can’t happen till we have a vaccine or a good treatment and without it will be very difficult. I think football belongs to the spectators without them is not the same. Football is an entertainment and if you are scared about a disease, it is very difficult to enjoy it,” he concluded.

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