Jamshedpur FC is one of the outfits in the Indian Super League which has yet to make playoffs in their history. The club came into existence during the 2017/18 season and finished in fifth place in their first two seasons of the ISL. Since then, the club managed to finish eighth and sixth in the next two editions, failing to take the next step into the playoffs. Last season, JFC finished sixth with 27 points from 20 matches, registering 7 wins, 6 draws, and 7 losses.
The outfit did look strong under Owen Coyle who took up the mantle ahead of the previous campaign. The Scottish gaffer came into Indian football after signing for Chennaiyin FC in the middle of the 2019/20 season. His second season in the ISL came with the Red Miners during which his team became a tough nut to crack. Coyle's teams are usually resilient and play as a unit. He won a lot of praise for guiding CFC into the playoffs and JFC hierarchy pounced on the chance of hiring him immediately.
The side could spring up a surprise in the upcoming season and here is how they can rise to the top under Coyle:
The winning mentality
Owen Coyle brings a winning mentality to the club. As aforementioned, Jamshedpur FC narrowly missed out on finishing amongst the top-four places last term. There was a difference of only four points between them and fourth-placed FC Goa after all matches were complete. The gaffer is brilliant at man-management, thinks for the good of Indian football at large and trusts the Indian players.
Winning games is not a problem for Jamshedpur FC since Coyle has come in. Rather, it is conceding cheap goals and dropping points due to losses. If the club can find a way to turn the losses into draws and the draws into wins, then playoffs qualification is not a reality too far.
The new signings
Jamshedpur FC have made very notable signings. Their transfer window has gained a lot of attention due to the brilliant incomings. The outfit has signed players like Eli Sabia, Ishan Pandita and Jordan Murray - these three figures have ISL experience which will give the Red Miners a huge advantage.
Furthermore, they have also brought in a promising player like Greg Stewart who won the Scottish Premiership with Rangers last season. The 31-year-old is a creative midfielder and will fill the gap left by the departure of Aitor Monroy. In addition to these moves, significant signings such as Pronay Halder, Anas Edathodika, Seiminlen Doungel and Komal Thatal suggest a strategy. The club, under the leadership of Coyle, have identified key areas and made signings to reinforce these areas.
Players like Jordan Murray will ensure stable production of goals while figures like Doungel and Thatal will provide pace, an aspect that was missing last season. Halder is a great addition in the heart of midfield. However, the club's success will be built on the solid defensive partnership of Eli Sabia and Peter Hartley.
Quality players retained
JFC have retained three foreigners from last season, namely Peter Hartley, Alex and Nerijus Valskis. All of them played key roles last season and will continue to do so in the upcoming edition of the ISL. Hartley is the club captain and will lead from the back. Alex can play multiple positions in the midfield and will aim to provide support to the forwards.
But the main focus will be Nerijus Valskis. The forthcoming season will be his third consecutive in India and the forward has kept his output steady since coming here. In his debut campaign, the 34-year-old scored 15 goals and provided 6 assists in 20 matches, winning the golden boot in the process. Last year, despite coming into a new side, Valskis became the top-scorer at JFC with eight goals. He will be absolutely vital to JFC's cause.
The arrival of Murray from Kerala Blasters FC will ease the burden of goals from his shoulders too. It will be interesting to see if Coyle will play the two strikers together, as they both have a hunger for goals second to none.
Points to focus on
In order to achieve success and rise to the top or even secure playoffs qualification, JFC must put extra focus on some areas. The outfit must work hard to shut out opposition and keep clean sheets. The arrival of Eli Sabia should aid in achieving this. The midfield needs more imagination and pace. Figures like Alex, Farukh Choudhary, Stewart, and Thatal will be essential to the team's success.
Lastly, their forwards must consistently find the back of the net. The Men of Steel have one of the most prolific forward lines. Experienced ISL players like Valskis, Murray, and Pandita can score against any opposition on their day.
Jamshedpur FC are showing good signs considering their performances in the pre-season friendlies. Their recent 3-0 drubbing of KBFC and earlier win over NorthEast United FC suggest that Coyle has definitely made improvement from last season.