Jamshedpur FC have endured a difficult Indian Super League (ISL) this term as they finished their season on the eighth spot of the league table managing 18 points from 18 matches with a goal difference of -13.
It is hard to escape the feeling when watching Jamshedpur these days that. The team has badly lost its way and is nothing more than a mid-table team.
The team has a lot of work to do this summer, if they harbour ambitions of reaching the summit.
There is no single reason why things have unravelled. Flawed decisions at boardroom level, poor management and disappointing recruitment in the transfer market. All the aforementioned factors have played a part to varying degrees.
The fact that Jamshedpur have decided to sell their family silver to their direct rivals is rather strange. They were guilty of reckless form of business when they inserted a release clause in Michael Soosairaj’s contract. However much the club wanted to hang on to Soosairaj, they were helpless after ATK met his buyout clause. And now they seem quite happy to sanction the departure of Tiri, Faroukh Chaudhary and Subrata Paul. The three players have been the pillar of the team. All this probably gives the impression that the man in charge of Jamshedpur’s transfer business is straying dangerously close to getting the reputation of being a nut head.
The question in everyone’s mind is- Why strengthen a direct rival that could be going head to head against you for the top-four? Why would you sell your best players?
It is easy to understand why throughout the Indian football fraternity, there is an element of mystery why a club with Jamshedpur’s financial muscle have been so obliging.
Part of the issue is the failure to renew contracts of players on terms that are acceptable to the club, leaving the club repeatedly in a situation of players having control of their destiny at the expense of the club.
And part of Jamshedpur’s indecisiveness with contracts has been how the club is being run- passive, bloodless, uncertain and devoid of leadership. There’s a sense that nobody’s really knows who’s in charge of the club.
If there was someone dynamic, engaged or even interested in making Jamshedpur a better football team, there might be a little more hope, but it might as well just be an empty chair at the top of the club. Through a lack of investment in the first team and even less interest, the absentee landlord has let a house degrade.
All of which means the road back to competitiveness is long. One might not be convinced by Antonio Iriondo’s managerial nous, but sacking him might not solve all their problems.
Recently the Spanish coach called for the club to introspect on why the club failed to make it into the play-offs for the third consecutive season.
“Probably now somebody has to take the responsibility of this. Maybe the easiest thing is to point to the staff and the coach but I can say is that mainly I care for Jamshedpur. Maybe the reflection has to be deeper and we have to think carefully what has been the problem,” said Antonio Iriondo.
With an absentee owner, changing plans and a manager who might not be the right fit, one get the sense the drift will continue for some time to come.