The coach was dismissed from his duties recently due to several factors.
Stuart Baxter was sacked as the head coach of Indian Super League 2020-21 outfit Odisha FC on 2 February 2021. The decision came immediately after the shocking comments by the Englishman following the defeat to Jamshedpur FC.
The hierarchy’s hands were twisted into making a decision, after the controversial comments brought a lot of flak towards the outfit. However, the sacking was a long time coming. It would be naive to assume that Baxter’s dismissal was a direct consequence to his comments.
Here are five things that went wrong for Stuart Baxter at the club:
5. Lack of gameplan
Odisha FC, similar to other teams, had to deal with a reduced pre-season. However, other clubs seemed to have managed themselves better than the Juggernauts. OFC never really had a stable formation or starting lineup, until the fifth or sixth gameweek and that was attributed to the tacician’s uncertainty.
Constant changes between 3-5-2, 4-4-2 and 4-3-2-1 systems pushed the players towards uncertainty and instilled a sense of confusion among fans. Clearly, this hampered the performances of the team.
4. Constant changes in personnel
An extension of the lack of gameplan also resulted in regular chopping and changing of the starting lineup. When the players were not assured of their starting place in the team, their roles on the pitch became opaque. Stuart Baxter found it hard to festablisha stable back four and changed the full-backs constantly, between Shubham Sarangi, Hendry Antonay, Sajid Dhot and Gaurav Bora.
Infact, Jacob Tratt was also employed as both a centre-back and a full-back. Bora was hailed as a good defensive midfielder for some reason and he was played also as a center-back, full-back and holding midfielder. This tendency led to obvious individual errors and a lot of sloppy goals being gifted to the opposition.
3. Abandoning Marcelinho
No fan cold get their head around as to why Marcelinho was made an outcast from the squad. It seemed like Baxter was never a fan of the player and did not feel like giving the Brazilian a chance to show his quality. A team that is struggling for goals and creativity in the final third, cannot afford to leave one of the ISL’s most influential attackers on the bench.
The disregard shown by the tactician towards Marcelinho was a major setback for the club. A player who has 32 goals to his name, fourth-highest in ISL’s history deserved more chances. Adding insult to injury, the Brazilian scored on his debut for ATK Mohun Bagan, after a swap deal was completed that saw Brad Inman come to Odisha FC.
2. Poor series of results
One of the major contributors to Baxter’s woes was the dismal performances of the team. After 14 games of him in-charge, OFC find themselves rock-bottom in the standings with eight points. Baxter could deliver only one victory (the least in the competition) and eight defeats (the most in the competition). His tactics were being trounced by opposing head coaches and the team outplayed in most games.
The league position of Odisha made the sacking inevitable. The 67-year-old tactician may have been allowed to hold the position till the end of the campaign, if not for a moment of weakness.
1. Laziness in the transfer market
Odisha FC had one of the youngest teams in the league and most notably did not have any experienced domestic figures in the ranks. The squad overhaul in the off-season saw a new set of foreigners with little to no ISL experience coming in, with a gaffer at the helm who had not tested the Indian football waters yet.
As a result, team suffered under pressure. When the opportunity came knocking in the January transfer window to reinforce the squad, Baxter seemed carefree at best. Rakesh Pradhan was the only recruitment in a squad that was crying for more additions, especially in the attacking department which had a weak Indian representation.