ISL- Indian Super League

Three challenges for Juan Pedro Benali at NorthEast United

Yash Pratap SinghYash Pratap Singh

June 9 2023
Juan Pedro Benali NorthEast United ISL Challenges

Juan Pedro Benali has signed a 1+1 year deal with the Highlanders.

It was a new season but the same old story for NorthEast United as they failed to make it to the knockouts for the second season running. But, despite a below-par league season, the Highlanders bounced back big time and made it to the semi-final of the Hero Super Cup and fell short, as always.

Although there’s nothing new about the club failing to do well in the league stages, what’s new is their way of responding to it this time. The club has hired the services of former Bengaluru FC think tank Mandar Tamhane and appointed him as the new CEO.

Mandar’s first move has seen him bring in experienced Spanish tactician Juan Pedro Benali to take over the hot seat at NorthEast United. The 54-year-old has joined the Guwahati-based club on a 1+1 year deal ahead of the 2023-24 season.

It won’t be an easy task for the new head coach given the current form of NorthEast United both on and off the field. On that note, we take a look at the top three challenges that Juan Pedro Benali will face at NorthEast United.

Assemble a competitive squad

Juan Pedro Benali NorthEast United ISL
Juan Pedro Benali. (Courtesy: 7M Sports)

The biggest problem that NorthEast United have faced over the years is the absence of a competitive squad. And with the new foreign player policy coming into play, things have only gone south for them. 

If you look at the number of players that they sign during the off season and the number of players that take to the field, there’s some difference. A lot of players even fail to make an appearance, thanks to their season-long injuries.

NorthEast United are the last club to sign players and therefore they just end up signing the leftovers of other clubs. The approach has to change and smart spending is the only way forward if NorthEast United really want to compete with the other clubs in the league.

Assembling a good and competitive squad is the biggest challenge that Juan Pedro Benali will face as the head coach of the Highlanders. 

Making the most out of local resources

NorthEast United Youth Team Juan Pedro Benali ISL
The youth team of NorthEast United. (Courtesy: NEUFC Media)

North-east India is a hotbed of footballing talent. But everyone other than NorthEast United have made the most out of it. All other clubs have nurtured so many talents from the region, who have gone to make their mark for both club and country.

It’s not that NorthEast United haven’t nurtured any players, they certainly have, but the numbers are not justified. Moreover, they have even failed to hold on to the players whom they have developed.

Ever since his appointment, Mandar Tamhane has stressed a lot upon making the best use of the talent that the region houses. So, it’s very important that the club now starts producing and nurturing talents not just for the first team, but also for the youth teams.

Lifting the morale

Juan Pedro Benali NorthEast United ISL
Benali is a manager adept in getting the best from his players. (Courtesy: Tangiers 24)

One more major challenge that Juan Pedro Benali will have to combat is to lift the morale of the existing squad. Things went from bad to worse for the Highlanders last season. Everything that could go wrong went wrong and made it very tough for the team both on and off the field.

So, it is very important that the new manager lifts the morale of the players and makes them feel more comfortable and confident. Juan has to have good man management skills in order to get the best out of his players.

Moreover, the team should set small and achievable targets and follow the due process to get things done. Juan should first focus on displaying a good performance at the upcoming Durand Cup and then work on the build-up to the 2023-24 ISL season.

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