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ISL: Coaches with most impact in debut season

Published at :May 18, 2024 at 8:51 PM
Modified at :May 18, 2024 at 8:51 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)


Delivering success in their debut ISL season is surely a major achievement.

Indian Super League (ISL) is an unforgiving competition where success is expected instantly from the head coaches. Failing to deliver good results off the bat is one of the reasons why the clubs in the ISL go through managers frequently.

While it can be an unfair demand on the head coaches who take time to find their feet and recognise the strengths and weaknesses of their team, some exceptional individuals over the years have performed beyond expectations in their debut season. 

Petr Kratky is one such example of a head coach making a huge impact in their first season after he guided Mumbai City FC to win the 2023-24 ISL Trophy. His achievement presents a perfect opportunity to look back at the top five managers with most impactful debut seasons in the ISL. (We haven’t ranked them)

John Gregory (2017-18)

John Gregory’s introduction to the Indian Super League was sensational when he became the head coach of Chennaiyin FC during the 2017-18 season. The tactician guided Marina Machans to the title and collected 32 points from 18 matches with an average of 1.78 points per game.

Bengaluru FC dominating the league stage of the 2017-18 Indian Super League made them favourites for the ISL Trophy in their debut season. However, Gregory’s Chennaiyin FC played party poopers and pipped the Blues to the title by a 3-2 win in the final. 

Carles Cuadrat (2018-19)

ISL: Coaches with most impact in debut season Carles Cuadrat East Bengal Bengaluru FC
Cuadrat is currently managing East Bengal. (Courtesy: ISL)

Carles Cuadrat took over the reins at Bengaluru FC and delivered the club’s first-ever ISL championship. During the highly successful 2018-19 season, Cuadrat’s first season as head coach, the Blues secured 34 points from 18 matches, producing 1.89 points per game.

The Spaniard led the Blues to a top-of-the-table finish for a second successive season. However, unlike the previous season, BFC won the final by defeating FC Goa.

Owen Coyle (2019-20)

Owen Coyle came to the ISL with a lot of pedigree and took the league by storm. He took over Chennaiyin FC a little later into the season, accumulated 24 points in 12 matches, two points per game average, and guided the side to the playoffs.

Going from the bottom of the table to securing playoff qualification was a major achievement and Owen Coyle received a lot of praise for causing an instant positive impact at the club. Unfortunately, his side lost in the ISL final to ATK.

Petr Kratky (2023-24)

ISL: Coaches with most impact in debut season Petr Kratky Mumbai City FC
Petr Kratky won his maiden final as a manager. (Courtesy: ISL)

The mood was gloomy at Mumbai City FC after Des Buckingham decided to part ways in the middle of the 2023-24 season. However, few could have predicted the instant impact Petr Kratky would eventually have in his debut season with the Islanders. The tactician had MCFC playing an attractive brand of football, finishing second in the league table and winning the ISL Trophy. He secured 33 points in 16 matches with a 2.06 points per game average. 

Albert Roca (2017-18)

Albert Roca’s first season in the Indian Super League remains a head coach’s most impactful debut campaign. The tactician guided Bengaluru FC to a top-of-the-league table finish after securing 40 points from 18 matches with a 2.2 points per game average. Under his leadership, BFC blew apart the competition but ended up losing the playoff final narrowly to an inspired Chennaiyin FC.

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