The Men of Steel lifted the ISL Shield last season.
While Jamshedpur FC is most likely to play with its reserve team in Durand Cup, the coming weeks are likely to be dominated by their transfer activities and announcements. The window is an opportunity the club cannot waste unlike last year, when they were crowned the Champions of India.
New boss Aidy Boothroyd is attempting to build on the project Owen Coyle left at the club from Jharkhand. The British manager already looks like he has the beginnings of a squad that with the right recruitment and additions, will be capable of challenging for major silverwares for the next couple of years as well.
Boothroyd’s expansive footballing philosophy means Jamshedpur FC still need a few more players at the club to execute the manager’s vision. There has also been a mass exodus of players at the club this summer. Stalwarts Greg Stewart, Jordan Murray and Indian players such as Mobashir Rahman and Narender Gehlot have left. This means Jamshedpur FC need to add new faces to the squad ahead of the new season. Here are five positions that the club needs to address first.
Jamshedpur FC kept changing players on the defensive left side of the pitch until Owen Coyle brought in Ricky Lallawmawma. The former ATK Mohun Bagan player has been a go-to option since then. He has contributed heavily in defence with his timely body blocks and interceptions.
For the last two seasons, Jamshedpur’s left back has barely been involved in attacking plays. Ricky has got just two assists in as many seasons wearing the jersey. As mentioned earlier, Boothroyd loves to play expansive football that requires involvement of full-backs to bomb forward and make those overlapping runs.
To fulfil those demands, the tactician has brought in Muhammed Uvais from Gokulam Kerala FC. The young left-back will play his first season in the top flight. However, it remains to be seen if Jamshedpur made the right choice or not.
Last season, the Men of Steel scored the most goals in a single season – 42 – in their brief history. To continue that, the club needs to invest in some lethal strikers. Nigerian forward Daniel Chima Chukwu turned the fortunes of Jamshedpur FC since joining in the winter transfer window. He is likely to renew his deal and stay at the club. That surely is a sign of relief for the team management.
However, the unexpected departure of Jordan Murray has left Jamshedpur FC’s think tank with a big task. The club needs to find a player capable of fulfilling the Viper’s role who scored four crucial goals last season despite being injured for most of the season. Specifically, the club needs a player who can play both as a winger or as a striker alongside Chima if the need arises.
As confirmed by Khel Now, Harry Sawyer is the one replacing Jordan Murray. Consequently, it would be interesting to see how the rookie fairs in the Indian Super League.
3. The Destroyer – Defensive Midfield
Last season, Pronay Halder was trusted to do the dirty work for Owen Coyle heading into important fixtures. The seasoned campaigner is known for his muscular approach to the game. Alex Lima was also slotted in the role but the Brazilian was more effective as a box-to-box midfielder.
The club has announced the return of fan favourite Wellington Priori last week. But it’s unlikely he would be used as the defensive midfielder. The Brazilian loves to contribute in attack and often moves forward with the ball leaving vulnerable spaces for opposition to exploit. This raises questions on his defensive duties.
The club, in fact, have been in need of quality defensive midfielders for several seasons now since the departure of Memo. Jamshedpur FC need a number six who can organise the defence while playing the ball out of the back.
Owen Coyle turned Dinliana Renthlei into a quality player when he brought him from Chennaiyin FC in 2020. The Mizo player has been quite a reliable option defensively but has fallen short in attack. It is a necessary quality in most modern day full-backs to be able to romp forward with the ball. The likes of Bengaluru FC, ATK Mohun Bagan and Kerala Blasters have been blessed to have players like Roshan Singh, Ashish Rai and Harmanjot Khabra in their ranks.
Jamshedpur’s other right back option is PC Laldinpuia who is more of a centre-back. This indicates there is a lack of options as well on the right side that has haunted the team almost every season. Last season, the winning goal for Kerala Blasters in the semi-final against Jamshedpur came from the right flank when Adrian Luna dribbled past Dinliana and slotted the ball into the far corner.
1. Number 10
Jamshedpur FC had got probably one of the best number 10s in the league’s history in Greg Stewart. The Scottish maestro won the Golden Ball last season and netted 10 goals with as many assists. Stewart has however, joined Mumbai City. Replacing the talismanic midfielder is never going to be easy for any club as an orchestrator and proficient midfielder like him is hard to attract to India. After a lot of talks about his future, the club parted ways with the player on a good note and thanked him for what he did at the club.
Jamshedpur FC need to bring in a potential alternative to the Scot maestro. The presence of towering forwards Harry Sawyer and Daniel Chima can re-cause the damage Jamshedpur’s forward line did last season if fed well.
According to a local newspaper, former Arsenal forward Jay Emmanuel Thomas is expected to fill the shoes of sensational Stewart. We can expect the new arrival to deliver the 10 goals Stewart scored but it is a doubt whether he would be able to provide those 10 assists as well.