Jamil is said to have done as he pleased without heeding any suggestions.

Khalid Jamil turned NorthEast United from a Volkswagen into a Ferrari and took them on a fairy-tale run in the 2020-21 season. He came in midway through the season and led the Highlanders to their best finish in the league. NorthEast United finished third and had it not been for a missed penalty in the semi-final, they could’ve very well made their first appearance in an ISL final.

Jamil was handed the reigns as a reward for his heroics with the team in just over 10 games. The Highlanders’ management showed their faith in Jamil and made him the first permanent Indian head coach in the league. But, things have only gone south for the Highlanders ever since the appointment of the former India international.

Khalid Jamil expresses displeasure

In a recent interview, he expressed his displeasure about his time with NorthEast United. He said that the new technical director treated him like ‘dirt’ and much more. The 44-year-old further opened up and disclosed a few problems going on at the club. His interview earned NorthEast United a lot of criticism from fans.

But, are the problems one-sided? Definitely not! People deserve to know the other side of the story as well and then decide who is right and who is wrong.

Khel Now recently got in touch with a source close to the club who told us the other side of the story. He said, “Khalid was rewarded with after his heroics with the team. He was given full freedom to build the team during the transfer window.”

Khalid Jamil
Jamil coached NorthEast United to their highest-ever finish in the ISL (Courtesy: ISL Media)

The Highlanders then began their training in October and that was exactly when things started to take the wrong turn. “After the training started in October, Khalid had countless altercations with key international players on various occasions. The pre-season passed and then the problems came up after the season started,” the source further added.

Foreign players spoke out for themselves, but if the Indian players opposed his plans and opinions, they were benched. Khalid benched key Indian players who were supposed to play during the course of the season.

“If any Indian players had any contradiction or conflict of opinion against the coach, they were benched. The key players who were supposed to start were benched because of this,” the source added.

Intense Training

Khalid Jamil’s rough and tough training program didn’t go well with his players and ended up hurting them. The players were made to train for multiple hours in the scorching heat of Goa, resulting in injuries to multiple key personnel. 

“His training regime was completely different and he had complete control over it. He keeps on talking about hard work, but you can either do hard work or smart work. Hard work doesn’t necessarily mean being on the ground for multiple hours in the scorching heat of Goa. 

“His multiple hours of training led to long-term injuries to multiple key players. Everyone could see how many injuries the team had and how it impacted the games in the first half of the season. Players fainted during training sessions and had a lot of discomfort post the training sessions,” the source revealed.

Deshorn Brown
Brown missed seven matches this season due to injury (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Jamil even made the players go through multiple hours of training on matchday minus one. The players couldn’t perform to their best of capabilities due to discomfort, which resulted in multiple injuries.

“There were other instances when the players trained for multiple hours a day before a matchday. As a result, the players were exhausted. Some couldn’t perform, while others needed substitution due to an injury during matches or due to discomfort,” said the source.

Picking Player nursing injury

He also further disclosed an instance when Khalid selected a key player despite advice from the medical staff to give him time to recuperate. “There was one instance when one key player wasn’t 100% and despite the medical staff’s advice to not play him, Khalid picked him. He did not perform well and was subbed off.”

Captains take control of team

Khalid Jamil lost control of the dressing room at NorthEast United to such an extent, that one of the team captains had to step up and take control of the team. The captain took the responsibility to keep the team together, as they faced a dip in form.

“There was also an incident when one of the captains took control of the team in terms of keeping the team together because Khalid lost the dressing room. As a result, performances automatically deteriorated,” the source continued.

Hernan Santana
Santana was the club captain for NEUFC this season (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Jamil did not even listen to his backroom staff, which resulted in four departures from the technical team.

“Khalid had his autocratic ways of handling the team. So much so that he did not even listen to his backroom staff. The medical staff on multiple occasions suggested that players were not 100% fit, but he did what he felt best. It resulted in four out of the six technical staff leaving the team citing him as one of the reasons,” he informed.

Appointment of technical director

The source also revealed the reasons behind bringing the technical director on board halfway through the season. The management brought him in with the hope of bringing a change in their fortunes, just like last season.

“So basically, the management reflected on the last season when the team was in a similar situation. Last season, they appointed a technical director, who worked alongside Khalid and took the team to their best-ever finish. 

“The management hoped for the same this season. They were hoping to end the season on a better note, if not replicate last season’s heroics,” he added.

Ohad Efrat
Ohad Efrat was the technical director with NorthEast United (Courtesy: ISL Media)

NorthEast United have set a not-so-cool trend of letting go of head coaches halfway through the season. But, they did not do it this season and instead they backed Khalid in every possible way.

“We all know that if a manager does not perform halfway through the season, the club parts company with him. Be it Robert Jarmi or Gerard Nus, but that wasn’t the case with Khalid, despite him not delivering good results.

“The management brought in the technical director to give some support to Khalid. It was already a tried and tested plan which worked last season and results were there for people to see,” the source concluded.

Khalid Jamil’s statement

When Khel Now reached out to Khalid Jamil to know his side of the story. He spoke out and denied all the allegations against him. Khalid also explained the reason behind his tough training sessions against the up-mentioned allegations.

“These allegations are fake. I agree I gave hard training sessions because I was not satisfied. The practice duration was long because these players don’t train for many months in the off-season.

“European teams can go for short training sessions as they play throughout the year, but we can’t. John (Abraham) sir gave me full freedom to do whatever I felt was right, but the medical staff did not cooperate with me.

He further said, “The players who did not get chances complained and one or two players opposed me because of long practice sessions.

“This is my philosophy and last season I did the same and results were there for everyone to see. The team that works hard will only get the desired results and without practice, you cannot achieve big things. I never did anything that will hurt the players because they‘re my players,” he signed off.

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