Jayapura, Jubi – Ashley Westwood, Bengaluru’s Coach was a product of Academy of Manchester United. As a MU’s product, of course, Westwood has a connection with the legendary coach Alex Ferguson. No wonder if Ferguson ever intervene in determining of Bengaluru FC’s decision.
There was two players, Sunil Chhetri, captain for Bengaluru FC who is also skipper for Indian National Team and Malemnganba Meitei, a young player, who has made Ferguson ‘s intervene. At the time, Westwood faced a dilemma. His young acquisition at Bengaluru FC, winger Malemnganba Meitei, had been one of the best performers during the pre-season. But his marquee player and India captain Sunil Chhetri was to arrive, which would mean Meitei would have to make way for him. After much haggling, he arrived at a decision. Reputations would count for nothing.
Westwood finaly benched Chheteri and made Meitei as starter. To make sure he had made the right decision, he called up former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. Westwood, was guided by Ferguson during his youth days and needed the Scot’s advice in the early days of his managerial career. He explained his predicament to the legendary coach.
Ferguson heard him patiently and assured him that he had taken the right decision.
“The first thing you should do is explain your decision to Chheteri, why you put him in the bench,” Ferguson told Westwood, as written by Indian reporters, Mihir Vasavda in the Indian Express. Next day, when team start the morning practice, Westwood call Chheteri and explain to him about his decision.
Never before had any coach dared to tell Chhetri that he won’t be a part of the playing eleven. But Westwood did it. “You are not going to play in our first two games,” Westwood told Chheteri.
“He had played for nearly a dozen teams in India. Everywhere, he had won admirers. He can walk into any team,” the coaches said about Chheteri to Indian Express.
However Chheteri, which initial reaction was of shock, could accept the decision.
“He (Westwood) said to me, you will not play in the first two games. I am shocked. Then he explained, because Meitei played very well and it is unfair to say to Meitei that our captain has returned and he had to play,” India’s captain told Indian Express.
Chheteri admitted that, in the end he realized Bengaluru is not like other teams where the team he ever played. And Westwood is not a coach like other coaches who coached him before.
Westwood kept his promise, after the first two games, Chheteri play again without missing any game for Bengaluru FC. The 29-year-old player led his team to the league title and won India Football Federation Cup.
Chheteri is not going to play in away games against Persipura in Mandala Stadium on 10 March. Also Robin Singh who should play for the national team in the pre-qualification round of the 2018 World Cup on the 12th and 17th of March. But the presence of Malemnganba Meitei, must be watch out by Boaz Salossa cs. Malemnganba Meitei is the player who made Westwood should ask Ferguson for his advice after his decision to benched Chheteri and put Meitei as starting eleven. (Victor Mambor)