Bengaluru FC manager Ashley Westwood has welcomed the AIFF's decision to reduce Mohun Bagan manager Sanjoy Sen's suspension from eight games to four. The Englishman has also claimed that not many teams in the I-league can trouble Bengaluru FC when they are playing at their highest level.
“Sometimes, you get a little bit passionate and you have to control your emotions at the game. That’s part and parcel of football. The rules are there; they’re good; and you have to abide by them. If you make mistakes, then you take it on the chin and make sure you don’t do it again. And, that’s what happened to Sanjoy Sen, he made a mistake, he put his hands up and he got fined. They accepted his appeal because he said he learned; and I’m happy that he is not suspended anymore.
“You know, no coach likes to see fellow coaches suspended. So, let’s get him back on the touchline and may the best team, including both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, let’s see who’s got enough to win the league,” Westwood said in the pre-match press conference.
When asked about what he felt was Mumbai FC's, their opponent this gameweek, weakness, he said, "I would never disrespect teams with weak links. I did see the reports of their new signings in the summer. I did see the reports of the coach earlier on, wanting to win the league and they had a chance. Now, they stood exactly as they are in the league, but I’m quite sure they are now not in it with a chance of winning the league. So, you say that they’ve been coached well. If their signings meant they were going to win the league then, you can make all the conclusions from that, really."
In the last five meetings between Mumbai FC and Bengaluru FC, their havebeen four draws and one win for the former. However, Westwood opted to not give much of an importance to the past record and insisted that not many I-League teams can match up to them when they are at their best.
"No, I don’t think so. (On team's record versus Mumbai). Obviously, the past results are there. But, we have done enough in certain games to win. We’re a confident side. We’ve got good team spirit. We’ve got good players and we don’t care really who we play at home. As long as we play as we can, we feel we can give anybody a game and get good results. Like you said, results haven’t been there in the past, but I’m quite sure that we’re mentally strong enough to put that in the back of our minds and just put on a good performance. It’s that if we do perform at our highest level, then I don’t think there're[sic] many teams in this league that can trouble us," Westwood said.
During the 1-1 draw between these two teams at the Kanteerava Stadium last season, Bengaluru FC fans were accused of throwing missiles on the pitch, one of which even struck Mumbai manager Khalid Jamil. Ahead of the game, Westwood claimed that he has never witnessed any coins being thrown by the fans, and expect them to be at their best behaviour for the match against Mumbai.
“Throw the coins my way! I wouldn’t mind a few extra spare of coins. I’m not sure that our fans are rich enough to throw their money away. If they are, then I’ll be pleased with that. But, I’ve never seen any coins being thrown. Our fans are in good spirits. Part and parcel of football is to shouting, and shout and abuse, if you like as we sit and see as the heart of the game; 90 minutes, it starts, it finishes and then it’s over and everyone’s forgotten.
“All around the world, if you go to games, if you go to rival games, there’s a certain element of banter and camaraderie between players, managers, coaching staff, fans and that’s part and parcel of football. For me, that’s how I would want it to be. There might be the case they might have stepped [sic] over the line on one occasion, with the ball and we came out straight away to apologize to the club. It was only one unfortunate incident,” explained Westwood.
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