As many as six new coaches will be at the helm of Indian Super League clubs this season.
The ninth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) will kick off on 7th October 2022. Since the beginning of the summer transfer window this year, every ISL team have tried its best to sign players to fit their style and form a successful team. ISL outfits Mumbai City, ATK Mohun Bagan, Hyderabad FC and Kerala Blasters did not change their head coaches, while clubs like NorthEast United, East Bengal, FC Goa, Chennaiyin FC, Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur appointed new coaches for this season.
Let’s look at the head coaches who are going to make their debut in the ISL this season.
Simon Grayson (Bengaluru FC)
Champions of ISL 2018-19, Bengaluru FC appointed Englishman Simon Grayson on a two-year deal to replace Marco Pezzaiuoli as their head coach.
The 52-year-old former English defender had a memorable start to his coaching career with English club Blackpool in 2005. Under him, Blackpool reached the fourth round of the League Cup for the first time in 35 years and lost just once in 14 games. Before joining Bengaluru FC, Simon Grayson managed clubs like Bradford City, Sunderland, Leeds United, and Huddersfield Town.
After winning the Championship in 2018, Bengaluru FC have witnessed a downfall and finished sixth last season. To end their recent misfortunes, the club management has appointed the very-experienced Grayson to pave their way to the playoffs and take the club back to where it belongs.
Aidy Boothroyd (Jamshedpur FC)
Even after a sensational season with Jamshedpur FC last year, Owen Coyle decided to leave the club. So, as a replacement for their League Shield-winning coach, Jamshedpur FC appointed former English footballer Aidy Boothroyd.
The 51-year-old mentor comes up with expertise and phenomenal experience at the highest level, having managed top-tier English clubs like Watford, Colchester United, Northampton Town and Coventry City. He was regarded as one of the best young managers in England after having three wonderful seasons with Watford.
Apart from managing these clubs, Boothroyd also played a crucial role in the development of young English footballers who featured in England’s FIFA World Cup 2018 squad and UEFA 2020 campaigns.
Marco Balbul (NorthEast United)
The 55-year-old former Israeli national team assistant coach Marco Balbul has been appointed as the Highlanders’ new head coach. Balbul has worked both as an assistant coach as well as a head coach at several Israeli clubs. He even managed the Israeli U-21 team during the Euro U-21 qualifiers. Balbul also played the role of the interim manager of the national team after the sudden departure of Willi Ruttensteiner.
The big task at hand for the NEUC head coach will be to end the club’s recent misfortunes and qualify for the playoffs in the upcoming ISL season. In ISL’s history, NorthEast United have only qualified for the league playoffs twice – in 2018/19 under Eelco Schattorie and in 2020/21 under Khalid Jamil.
Thomas Brdaric (Chennaiyin FC)
German manager Thomas Brdaric replaced Božidar Bandović at the helm after the latter failed to guide the Marina Machans to the playoffs last season.
Brdaric was awarded the Best Coach of the Year in 2021 during his stay at Albanian club KF Vllaznia. He also led the side to the Albanian Cup title in his first season as the manager (2020-21). He also helped them finish as runners-up in the domestic championship in 2021.
The former German national team forward has played alongside former Manchester United and Kerala Blasters striker Dimitar Berbatov. In 271 games as a head coach, he has a record of 147 wins and 57 draws.
Carlos Pena (FC Goa)
After a disappointing previous season, FC Goa assigned former player Carlos Pena as their head coach this season. Pena was a crucial member of the FC Goa squad that won the maiden ISL League Winners’ Shield in the 2019/20 season and the Super Cup in 2019.
The former Barcelona player joined Goa in 2018 at the latter stage of his career. He announced retirement from professional football in 2020 after two memorable seasons with the Gaurs.
Pena won the UEFA European U-19 championship in 2002 and was an integral part of the runners-up team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2003. Reviving FC Goa will be perhaps a tough challenge for Carlos Pena, keeping his coaching experience in mind. But his knowledge about Indian football will surely keep him ahead of the newcomers in the country!
Stephen Constantine (East Bengal)
The 59-year-old former Indian national team and UEFA Pro-license holder has been appointed as the East Bengal head coach for the upcoming season. He managed the Indian football team from 2002 to 2005 and from 2015 to 2019. During his career as a footballer, he played for USA side Pennsylvania Stoners and New York Pancyprian-Freedoms. Due to a serious knee injury, Stephen Constantine retired at the age of 26.
Constantine made his debut as a coach for Cyprus club APEP Pitsila and coached the Nepalese national team between 1999 and 2001. He knows Indian football like the back of his palm. The club on the other hand, have assembled a balanced squad for the ISL. Will “ISL debutant” Constantine be able to change the fortunes of the Kolkata giant? Time will answer!