Indian Football Season 2017-18 Review: Delhi Dynamos
Written by: Tushaar Sachdeva
The Dynamos started the season with a clean slate in an effort to go one better, but the event ended up going in the opposite direction to the extreme.
After making it to the semi-final stages in consecutive seasons, Delhi Dynamos were stern in their mission to going further this campaign. In the event, they fell prey to a series of losses that jeopardized their season, a pitfall that the team could not climb up from despite the turn in fortunes in the latter stages of the competition.
There were many ingredients that went into the making of this recipe of disaster, panic-buying in the market, the inability to retain key players, injuries and suspensions being chief among them.
Powered by fresh owners and management, which is becoming an annual routine. They went into this campaign's draft with a clean slate, not retaining any of their performers from last term and setup a young squad that seemed to lack on-field maturity and guile. While the other North Indian top-tier club, Minerva Punjab triumphed in the I-League quite heroically, Dynamos were strangled in the bottom three of the league.
In the dying stages, they did pull off an unbeaten streak of six matches. but added spice to their disastrous dish by flunking their first test in the Super Cup Qualifiers, ending their dismal season with yet another loss.
Fact Sheet for Indian Season 2017-18
Season Finished: 8th
Games Played: 19
Won : 5
Lost : 10
Drawn : 4
Win %: 26.31
Delhi Dynamos, under the Spanish coach Miguel Angel Portugal, went to Spain and Qatar for preparations. In Europe, DDFC faced two sides from the country's fourth division and gave them a tough fight. Against Atlético Astorga FC, they lost 5-2 while in Oviedo, they displayed a much-improved performance, losing 1-0 after a defensive error.
In Qatar, Dynamos got off to a really good start. They beat Muaither SC and the Army team by solitary goals. They lost to Al-Wakrah SC, a much better side than the Lions, having won nine trophies in the past. The highlight of their pre-season tour was that the manager used each and every player at his disposal to look for the perfect playing XI.
Flop of the Season
Guyon Fernandes: As the coach, Portugal and owners tipped him as the crucial addition to the club's attack before the start of the season, the fans expected the same. But, those expectations did not come to fruition. The Dutch forward could not capitalise on many crucial chances and was tardy in his movement. He was shown three yellow cards in a span of just 10 games.
Guyon's Performance in ISL 2017-18
Yellow Cards: 3
Top 3 Performances
- Delhi Dynamos 2-0 Bengaluru FC ( Match Report and Highlights)
- Pune City FC 2-3 Delhi Dynamos ( Match Report and Highlights)
- Delhi Dynamos 5-1 Mumbai City ( Match Report and Highlights)
Manager's Report Card
After the opening match heroics, Dynamos went on a winless streak until the halfway point of the season. They were humiliated on many occasions and yet the gaffer was okay with the results, conveying the message that they always lost in the dying minutes despite dominating the major part of the game. The Spanish manager needed to understand that it is the points that matter, not the on-field dominance.
The defence leaked goals, the attack misfired and the coach kept on experimenting with the players. He tweaked the formation, brought in new players and it finally paid off when they beat the then table-toppers Bengaluru FC in the capital, but followed that with another couple of defeats that clearly displayed the shortcomings of the tactician.
In the final trimester of the league, he propped up the team to gain 12 out of a possible 18 points and some respect to end the season, having climbed to 8th position after rotting in 10th for a major portion of the league.
Lessons to be learned
Where did it all go wrong? The squad really lacked a leader, someone who would fight with the referee on every contentious point and stand up for his men. The incompetency of Kalu Uche meant that the armband was used in a game of passing-the-parcel, further hindering the balance of the team.
Next up are the acquisitions of youngsters. Dynamos picked mere young guns for every position without realizing that they did not have Sir Alex Ferguson who would win them the league. Add to that, the foreigners they signed were sloppy and well past their best.
Thus, one of the major learnings from the season is to stop the cycle of constant change of on-field management in every 12 months and to retain the players who have performed week-in-week-out.
It was a revamped side and it took them time to understand the philosophy of the manager, but once that happened, the real Delhi Dynamos that everyone knew from the past seasons showed up. There were also many injuries and suspensions at crucial junctures. Our shot-stoppers including Albino (Gomes) and Xabi (Irureta) got injured mid-game. Matias (Mirabaje) who had scored two phenomenal goals for us was injured and suspended for the majority of games during that period."
Things started getting bleak post the Bengaluru game where the team went down 4-1. It was from that day that the unfortunate spell began including the injuries, suspensions and the poor refereeing calls. Elsewhere, when other clubs started sacking their gaffers, the club stood by Portugal and it really paid off towards the end of the season. But, it was a disappointing campaign on the whole.
Published: Fri Apr 06, 2018 04:00 PM IST