The Men of Steel would be hoping to break the duck by making it to the playoffs under new head coach Owen Coyle.
Jamshedpur FC head into another new season of Indian Super League (ISL) with a new head coach and restored belief of qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in their history. The Men of Steel made major changes to their set up as they appointed Owen Coyle to the helm, while they also signed a horde of new foreign and Indian players.
This season under Coyle, the supporters will be looking for a change in fortunes.
Last Season’s Performance: Eighth
The Men of Steel started the season very well, with seven points in the first three fixtures under the tutelage of Antonio Iriondo. Players like Sergio Castel and Piti played a big role in churning out results. However things changed drastically when Piti got injured and subsequently Noe Acosta, Tiri and even Castel were also ruled out.
Iriondo was out of options and the Men of Steel struggled to eke out results. A team which at the start looked like playoffs contenders gradually trickled lower with every passing fixture.
This season, the whole league will be conducted in Goa and therefore, Jamshedpur are also in their bio-bubble in the coastal state. The team are training at the Panchayat Ground in Sangolda and the Men of Steel have already played a friendly game against FC Goa.
The Gaurs won that game 3-2 courtesy of a late winner from Ishan Pandita. David Grande and Mobashir Rahman scored for Owen Coyle’s side.
Owen Coyle came as a messiah for Chennaiyin FC last season, as he turned their fortunes around and propelled them to the final from the bottom of the league. The Scotsman came as a mid-season replacement for John Gregory and was only a win away from creating history, as the Marina Machans lost to ATK in the showpiece.
Therefore, looking at his last season’s performance, Jamshedpur FC have appointed Coyle along with his foreign assistant coach Sandy Stewart, who also played a big role in Chennaiyin’s turnaround. On the other hand, Noel Wilson is the Indian assistant coach, Adrian Gregory Dias and Ezequiel Gomez Leon are the strength and conditioning coach and goalkeeping coach respectively.
Jamshedpur FC had a squad overhaul in the summer, as they released a lot of Indian and foreign players and brought in some new faces.
After appointing Owen Coyle as head coach, the Men of Steel roped in last season’s top scorer Nerijus Valskis. Furthermore, they also added the likes of Peter Hartley and Stephen Eze to solidify their defence. Meanwhile, midfielder Alex Lima and winger Nicholas Fitzgerald followed suit.
Among the Indian signings, former FC Goa winger Jackichand Singh’s move to Jamshedpur has to be the biggest surprise. Full-backs like Laldinliana Renthlei and Ricky Lallawmawma have also joined. Moreover, former Aizawl FC and Mohun Bagan forward William Lalnunfela was also roped in to add more depth in attack. In addition, Indian goalkeepers, TP Rehenesh and Pawan Kumar have also joined the Men of Steel.
A lot of players were released, while some moved to seek greener pastures. Indian custodians Subrata Paul and Rafique Ali both left for Hyderabad FC and SC East Bengal respectively. Last season’s top performer Farukh Choudhary joined Mumbai City FC, while Sumeet Passi joined RoundGlass Punjab.
Among foreigners, the likes of Piti, Sergio Castel and Noe Acosta were released. While Tiri shifted allegiances to ATK Mohun Bagan and Memo Moura joined Chennaiyin FC.
Goalkeepers: Pawan Kumar, Niraj Kumar, TP Rehenesh
Defenders: Narender Gahlot, Joyner Lourenco, Ricky Lallawmawma, Sandip Mandi, Laldinliana Renthlei, Karan Amin, Peter Hartley, Jitendra Singh, Stephen Eze
Midfielders: Aitor Monroy, Alex Lima, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, Aniket Jadhav, Jackichand Singh, Isaac Vanmalsawma, Mobashir Rahman, Bhupender Singh
Forwards: Nerijus Valskis, William Lalnunfela, Nicholas Fitzgerald, David Grande.
Formation and Tactics
This is exactly the formation which turned the fortunes for Chennaiyin FC and Coyle will most likely use the same at Jamshedpur FC. Captain Peter Hartley will lead the defence along with Nigerian centre-back Stephen Eze, while Renthlei and Ricky will play as full-backs.
In midfield, Aitor Monroy will be the anchor who will look to break up play and also initiate attacks with his exquisite passing ability. He will be well supported by Amarjit Kiyam, who will add energy to the middle of the park with his relentless running. Alex Lima will be a perfect fit in the No.10 role, as he will get the license to join the attack and considering his dribbling ability, the Brazilian can be a valuable asset for Coyle this season.
The front three is also more or less set with Jackichand Singh and Aniket Jadhav flanking Valskis through the middle.
Owen Coyle may also shift to a more balanced formation, where three midfielders will be involved in transition and can join the attack or defence according to the requirement. In this formation, in order to facilitate a foreign player, Narender Gahlot comes in to replace Eze in defence, while the others in the four-man backline remain the same.
Aitor Monroy will continue to play centrally, providing cover for the backline and also recycling the ball from time-to-time. While Amarjit and Lima will provide support in the middle of the park by drifting wide and stretching the opposition’s defence. It will also allow the likes of Nicholas Fitzgerald and Jackichand to move further forward, while Nerijus Valskis may drop deep to link the attack with the midfield.
Coyle may also throw in another forward in David Grande when they really need to push for a goal. Grande can collaborate with Valskis upfront and help the Men of Steel get the desired result. The Scotsman will also have some other attacking options like William Lalnunfela and Isaac Vanmalsawma to play around with.
- A very strong foreign contingent with leaders in every department across the field. Players like Peter Hartley, Stephen Eze, Alex Lima, Nerijus Valskis bring a lot of invaluable experience to a young Indian side.
- Roping in a coach like Owen Coyle who already has experience of coaching in India.
- The addition of Jackichand Singh who has been terrific for FC Goa for the last couple of the years.
- Jamshedpur FC have a lot of variety in their attack. If Coyle wants to explore, he can use the likes of David Grande, Nicholas Fitzgerald along with Valskis in an all foreign attacking lineup. They also have great Indian players in Jackichand, Aniket and Lalnunfela to provide depth.
When Owen Coyle took charge from Gregory last season, he had a demoralized Chennaiyin FC side languishing at the bottom of the table. However, he had players, who, on their day can be match-winners. He had a solid Indian core and strong foreigners to fill in the gaps. But, at Jamshedpur FC, the squad is once again full of young players and considering that this is a long competition, the Men of Steel may feel the lack of experience in their ranks.
Losing two Indian stalwarts like Subrata Paul and Farukh Choudhary may come back to haunt the side. Although, they have signed Rehenesh and Pawan Kumar to compete for a place in between the sticks, Paul’s experience would have come in handy.
Players to Watch
Last season’s Golden Boot winner with 15 goals and six assists, Nerijus Valskis re-unites with his former coach Owen Coyle and together they will look to re-create the same magic at Jamshedpur. The Lithuanian will have the responsibility to lead the line for the Men of Steel and therefore, he has to be the one to watch out for this campaign.
Valskis’ experience of playing in India will help the team, as the 32-year old will look to share his knowledge with the young Indian forwards and help the team grow as a unit. His ability to run past defenders and hold the ball up will come in handy yet again. His overall performance this term will define Jamshedpur FC’s fortunes.
The former FC Goa winger has to be the best Indian addition this season for Jamshedpur. Jackichand played an invaluable role in Sergio Lobera’s system, as the Gaurs topped the league and also booked a slot in the AFC Champions League.
The 28-year old played a big role in attack, as he scored five goals and assisted thrice in the league stage, sharing a great partnership with Ferran Corominas. Jamshedpur FC fans will be hoping that he develops that kind of understanding with Valskis and can replicate his form for the Men of Steel.
Brazilian dynamo Alex Lima has to be one of the most underrated signings in this season’s ISL. The 31-year-old midfielder brings along some Samba panache and a lot of experience which is direly needed at Jamshedpur. He has played across three continents and has featured in the leagues of South Korea, Switzerland, United States and Vietnam.
Lima has exquisite dribbling skills and can play in multiple positions across midfield. He comes with over 150 appearances in Major League Soccer for teams like Chicago Fire and Houston Dynamo. He will play a very vital role in deciding the fortunes for Jamshedpur FC this season.
What to Expect
There is a lot of excitement around the Men of Steel, as fans feel like their team have finally got the players and coach to at least reach the playoffs. That must be the minimum target and considering the right mix of experience and youthful exuberance in their ranks it looks like a very possible goal.