Chopping and changing at NorthEast United FC continues as the team is all set to play the next Indian Super League season without a few popular faces.
While their best performing coach Eelco Schattorie has already moved on to Kerala Blasters for ISL 2020, the Kochi side also took along NorthEast United’s top performer Bartholomew Ogbeche.
The Guwahati side now has announced that it was parting ways with Rowllin Borges as well, who was one of the most consistent performers for the club since ISL 2016 season. Borges will now play for Mumbai City FC.
The often hot and cold NorthEast United FC is being blamed for losing on its top performers. “NEUFC has failed to retain their top performers yet again. We loved the way Nico Velez played… then Alfaro came and went to another club and now Ogbeche. Even good Indian players are not being retained. This is not good for the team and the fans,” said Manash Goswami, a close follower of the club. Goswami added that although finances play a major role, the club should try to retain the talent else they will only be treated as a stepping stone.
“I think the management should take good care of the players. If every season players go like this, the fan loyalty is also affected. We have seen how the Sarusajai Stadium remains almost empty these days,” he added.
The ardent fan’s caution holds ice as the NorthEast United FC has seen fans deserting the team in the past two seasons. The Sarusajai Stadium has been witnessing lesser crowd during the home matches of the club. Ironically, in the 2016 season, tickets were sold in black for the home matches of the John Abraham-owned club.
Karan Barman, a member of the Highlander Brigade, the fan army of NorthEast United FC, echoes the same thoughts. Barman said that the problem is financial as the club is not having a good corporate backing. “The main reason NEUFC is losing the fan base is due to the change in players every season. There has to be some continuity. Top players are leaving the club,” he said. Barman added that the club needs to find more sponsorship so that it can have a good financial backing to support the players.
The ever changing NEUFC’s performance has never been consistent. While the club played their first playoffs last season, they could not retain the services of their top performer of the season – Bartholomew Ogbeche. Also, Borges, who had a great season last year, was not retained.
According to media reports, NorthEast United FC defender Mato Grgic is also close to joining Mumbai City FC ahead of the next season.
Earlier, performers like Koke, Nico Velez and Emiliano Alfaro were fan favourites. But the club could not retain their services.