ISL 2020-21, Jamshedpur FC preview: Can the Coyle-Valskis combo light the fuse?
ISL 2020: Jamshedpur FC finished eighth last season. Ahead of the new season, we analyse the Men of Steel's strengths, weakness, coach, foreign signings, best formation and more.
Owen Coyle will be Jamshedpur FC's buzzword in ISL 2020-21.
Jamshedpur FC hit the reset button during the transfer window, bolstering its squad with a number of exciting additions ahead of the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season.
The franchise, which joined the league in 2017, is yet to make it to the playoffs and will be desperately seeking a reversal of fortunes.
LISTEN to our preview of the 2020-21 edition of the Indian Super League
The introduction of Kolkata giants ATK Mohun Bagan FC (ATKMBFC) and SC East Bengal to the league may have already made life difficult for the Red Miners in the Covid-19 bubble, but they won’t be too concerned, having addressed a major issue that troubled the side last season.
Jamshedpur conceded 35 goals in its previous campaign as the absence of a specialist right-back added to its defensive woes. This time, however, the team’s think tank left no stone unturned as it acquired what looks like a solid backline.
Not only has Jamshedpur signed two experienced centre-backs in Englishman Peter Hartley and the 6’6-tall Nigerian Stephen Eze, it has also acquired the services of former Chennaiyin FC right-back Laldinliana Renthlei.
Laldinliana Renthlei (L) made 34 appearances for Chennaiyin FC across two seasons.
Former ATK FC – now ATKMBFC – left-back and ex-Aizawl FC captain Ricky Lallawmawma will shore up Jamshedpur’s defence, which will also see the likes of Indian footballers like Joyner Lourenco, Narender Gahlot, Sandip Mandi and Jitendra Singh shoulder responsibilities from time to time.
A lengthy 2020-21 season in the sultry Goa weather could see some first-team players pick up injuries, and what looks like a magnificent attacking unit now could lose all its lustre later owing to the lack of solid alternatives.
Much of the game in the attacking half will revolve around 2019-20 Golden Boot winner Nerijus Valskis, who was instrumental in runner-up Chennaiyin FC’s run to the final last season. Former A-League player Nicholas Fitzgerald and Spanish forward David Grande will be expected to aid the Lithuanian.
Before replacing John Gregory at Chennaiyin last season, Owen Coyle helped transform English football clubs such as Burnley United and Bolton Wanderers.
Owen Coyle will be Jamshedpur FC’s fourth manager in three years.
Although the Coyle era at Chennaiyin started on a sombre note with a draw, win and two losses in his first four matches in charge, it concluded with the side qualifying for the final from a near-impossible situation. Coyle will hope to put on a similar show this time around as Jamshedpur’s fourth coach in three years.
Former Motherwell FC skipper Hartley will wear the captain's armband in his debut ISL season and will look to fill the void left by Tiri, who led the team for the last three seasons before switching over to defending champion ATKMBFC.
English footballer Peter Hartley is set to lead Jamshedpur FC in ISL 2020-21. | Photo Credit: JAMSHEDPUR FC
The 32-year-old Hartley began his youth career with Sunderland AFC before moving to Chesterfield FC on loan. He has also turned up for Hartlepool United, Stevenage, Plymouth Argyle, Bristol Rovers and Blackpool in his illustrious career.
The selection committee will be proud of the foreign talent it has assembled. The Men of Steel signed seven foreigners ahead of this season, including Valskis, Hartley, Eze and Brazilian midfielder Alexandre Lima, who can also double up as a left-winger.
The franchise also retained playmaker Aitor Monroy, who played all the 1,620 minutes of Jamshedpur’s 2019-20 campaign.
Best new signing
Valskis, who made his ISL debut in 2019, is undoubtedly the most vital cog in the Jamshedpur wheel.
Nerijus Valskis was the joint-top scorer of the 2019/20 season and won the Golden Boot.
He scored 15 goals and had six assists in 20 matches for Chennaiyin last season to emerge as the league’s top-scorer, and he will look to replicate his performances with his new team in the months to come.
Best possible formation
Coyle loves to play an attacking style of football and he will look to make use of the “springy” 4-2-3-1 formation. While this has the 4-4-2 diamond’s robustness in the midfield, it additionally avoids the risk of having no players to make use of the flanks.
Coyle will also look to build his game up from the back, where he will prefer to use of the capabilities of Eze, Hartley, Lallawmawma and Renthlei. Two defensive midfielders in Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Aitor Monroy will adopt the dual roles of pressing the opponent high when an opportunity arises and dropping back to consolidate the defence as and when required.
Jackichand has a point to prove after his move to Jamshedpur from FC Goa. - Twitter @JamshedpurFC
The right-footed Valskis will be expected to feed off Jackichand Singh’s brute pace on the wings, with Lima and Vanmalsawma also providing able support.