The Highlanders parted ways with the Dutchman after the end of last season.
A wonderful season in the Indian Super League (ISL) saw NorthEast United qualify for the playoffs, their first such instance since establishment. However, a stunning comeback victory in the second leg by eventual champions Bengaluru FC, saw them bow out of the competition.
Moving forward to the post-season period, the club went through a dark phase, which saw head coach Eelco Schattorie leaving his position to join Kerala Blasters along with assistant coach Shaun Ontong. Moreover, the Highlanders also lost a few key first-team players like Rowllin Borges, Mato Grgic, Rehenesh TP and Bartholomew Ogbeche.
Nevertheless, the club went on to make a big move by bringing in Khalid Jamil as the assistant coach and are on the lookout for the best candidate, who could take the position of Schattorie at the helm.
Let’s have a look at some of the options of coaches amongst whom the Highlanders may pick one as Schattorie’s successor.
3. Nelo Vingada
NorthEast fans might be shocked about hearing of the return of Nelo Vingada, but the Portuguese can be considered as one of the legitimate options for the club. Vingada was the head coach of the Highlanders during the 2016-17 season and helped them finish at a commendable fifth position in the league, very narrowly missing out on the playoffs.
One cannot simply ignore the tremendous experience he comes with, having managed teams in several countries across the world. The 66-year-old was also recently appointed as the interim coach by Kerala Blasters, but he managed to get just a solitary victory in his seven games in-charge.
2. Steve Coppell
Steve Coppell is one of the highly-regarded coaches in India and the thought of having him at NorthEast might be exciting for the fans. The Englishman has a good experience of coaching teams in the ISL, such as Kerala Blasters and Jamshedpur FC and would be a very valuable addition to the ranks at NorthEast.
They might look a depleted side at the moment, but Coppell has the capability to build a whole new squad and carry forward the legacy of last season.
1. Ranko Popovic
Amongst the three, Ranko Popovic would be the most sensible pick for the Highlanders. The Serbian had a great stint in the ISL with FC Pune City in 2017-18, which saw him take the Stallions to their first-ever playoffs.
The 51-year-old recently completed his contract as the manager at Austrian side SKN St. Polten and would be open to returning to India. Although, having comparatively less managerial experience than the other two candidates, Popovic too has managed teams in several countries including Japan, Spain and Thailand.
The former Real Zaragoza manager has a knack for getting the best out of his attackers and it would certainly be a delight to watch him once again in the ISL, this time with the Highlanders.