Manoeuvring a team to reach greater heights and find the upper ceiling is not an extraordinary feat for former Jamshedpur FC head coach Owen Coyle. From winning laurels at English clubs like Burnley FC and Bolton Wanderers FC to winning the League Winners' Shield for Jamshedpur FC in just his second Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season for the club, Coyle has mastered the art of churning out the best out of his players.

While one might argue that Jamshedpur FC have not had that accustomed style of playing attractive football, say the likes of Mumbai City FC or ATK Mohun Bagan play with, the Scotsman fancied his own style into the Hero ISL and struck jackpot within two seasons.

The nurturement and development of young players, namely Komal Thatal, Boris Singh, Ishan Pandita, Sandip Mandi, Mobashir Rahman, Jitendra Singh in conjunction with the foreign signings of Peter Hartley, Alex Lima, Jordan Murray, Greg Stewart, and Daniel Chima Chukwu is a testament to his triumph.

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The other heavyweights in the league might have had the liberty of a spending spree, but at Jamshedpur FC, Coyle maintained the standards of the club, and turned nickel into gold with what was offered to him.

“If I had Mumbai City FC's budget or ATK Mohun Bagan's budget, then I'd be doing things differently. They may go and buy Liston (Colaco), (Hugo) Boumous, or Apuia. Good luck to them. We work differently. I go and target young players that I think I can improve. I have done that this year with Pronay (Halder), Mobashir (Rahman) and Jitendra (Singh) who have been sensational,” said the 55-year-old on structuring his side in their league-winning campaign.

It’s a noteworthy fact that Jamshedpur FC didn’t go into the 2021-22 season as the favourites to win either of the League Winners’ Shield or the Hero ISL title, and a remarkable fact that comes out of it is the way the Men of Steel have turned as a perfect team unit, with Coyle stitching the best playing XI for every match, no matter which player makes it to the game. The perfect example for this being the games they played without Greg Stewart or Jordan Murray or Ritwik Das, the side was able to take away three points from such matches.

From a statistical standpoint, the Scotsman has played it smart when it came to his gameplan. In the 22 matches that the team played, the Men of Steel strung 6548 passes, ranking ninth in the charts, and took 10,385 touches of the ball, ranking eight in the charts. This portrays Coyle’s unique blueprint of his style of play, to have less of the ball and yet manage to find the back of the net 43 times in the season, second highest in the league.

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Given the distinctive nature of the season, with bio-bubbles in place for each and every team, the calamity of rising COVID cases struck the Jamshedpur FC camp too, with the side not being able to train for more than seven days with regards to the quarantine measures in the league. Yet, the side withstood all the adversities that showed up at their door and came out on top, another feature of the team spirit and bonding brought in by the 55-year-old.

“The eleven that play are always going to be happy because they are playing. I probably spend more time with the boys that aren't playing because they have a big role to play as a player that plays just half a game, or few minutes is as important as a player that plays every game. We wouldn't have won the League Winners' Shield if Ishan Pandita didn't pop up and score late goals. That was a four-point differential. My point is that they are all playing a part,” Coyle expressed about the bond he built among the players at Jamshedpur FC.

Toiling effortlessly and getting the best out of everyone in the team, Owen Coyle’s men were able to script not one but two records in the history books. Registering 43 points in the league phase, Jamshedpur FC set the record for achieving most points in the season, beating the earlier records set by Bengaluru FC in the 2017-18 season (40 points), Mumbai City FC in 2020-21 season (40 points). Secondly, the side also set a record for the longest winning streak (7 games) in Hero ISL history. 

Looking back over the past two seasons, one clearly understands the lengths and depths Owen Coyle went through, to get a mid-table team to the top and create history. While it obviously stands as a hallmark of what the Scotsman has done in the Hero ISL, Jamshedpur FC have a new benchmark set for them and a new era beckons for them after their former coach’s departure to Scottish club Queen’s Park FC.