The head coaches, the main think-tank of any squad, sustain the highest pressure of a football game despite not participating directly with the ball.

With their passionate and spirited body language on the sidelines, a sharp inspection of the ongoing match, outsmarting opponents with 'out of the box' substitutions or tactical switches, and continuous support for their players irrespective of the situation, a head coach has many responsibilities on the pitch beyond dressing room board work and training session activities.

The Indian Super League (ISL) 2023–24 season witnessed familiar foes returning to the league, making this season more interesting and a tactical spectacle. With ISL Cup winner Manolo Marquez, experienced Ivan Vukomanović, and the return of former title-winning coaches like Sergio Lobera, Carles Cuadrat, and Owen Coyle, the tone of intense competition was set even before the season kicked off.

As Phases 1, 2, and 3 have drawn to a close, the final phase, Phase 4, commenced on June 3. This phase involves the nomination of the ultimate pick for a 3-4-3 formation-based Team of the Season, focusing on the head coaches. Notably, the voting period will run until noon on June 5, and fans need to pick their desired head coach to complete their teams.

With Phase 4 of voting underway, let's take a look at the nominees for Head Coaches for the Fans’ Team of the Season.

Antonio Lopez Habas (Mohun Bagan Super Giant)

Habas is one of the most successful coaches in the league, and this season was no exception as he guided the Mariners to their first-ever League Shield triumph. Despite taking charge of the team mid-season during a challenging phase, when Mohun Bagan Super Giant suffered three consecutive defeats, the 66-year-old experienced Spaniard turned the tide, leading them to finish the league stage in the top spot with the highest-ever point tally of 48. They accomplished this impressively by defeating Mumbai City FC in the final fixture of the regular season.

Moreover, under Habas' leadership, Mohun Bagan SG reached the ISL final for the second consecutive year, though they ultimately lost to the Islanders by a 3-1 scoreline.

Petr Kratky (Mumbai City FC)

Another coach who came in mid-season and transformed his team is Petr Kratky. Mumbai City FC kicked off the 'Kratky era' in style, clinching their second ISL Cup in his debut season. The task was challenging for the Czech-Australian coach, who took over from Des Buckingham, the architect behind Mumbai City FC’s ISL League Shield win in the 2022–23 season.

Kratky swiftly implemented his strategies, bringing out the best in his squad in a short period. His influential presence on the sidelines and unwavering attitude were pivotal to Mumbai City FC’s successful ISL season.

Sergio Lobera (Odisha FC)

Since Sergio Lobera took charge at Odisha FC, he's infused his possession-based, eye-catching style of play into the squad, propelling the Kalinga Warriors to their first-ever semi-final this season. Despite falling short of reaching the final, Odisha FC's performance throughout the season was commendable, securing the fourth spot in the league with 39 points from 22 matches.

Moreover, the Kalinga Warriors experienced a notable achievement by remaining unbeaten at home throughout the ISL 2023–24 season, establishing the Kalinga Stadium as their impregnable fortress.

Manolo Marquez (FC Goa)

Manolo Marquez, the 2021-22 ISL Cup winner with Hyderabad FC, made a stellar start to his FC Goa career. He led the Gaurs through a record-breaking 12-match unbeaten run. Despite this dream beginning, FC Goa encountered setbacks due to injuries to two key players, Sandesh Jhingan and Victor Rodriguez, which dealt a heavy blow to their League Shield aspirations.

However, the Gaurs fought back in the latter stages of the season which helped them a spot in the ISL playoffs for the first time in the last three years.

Owen Coyle (Chennaiyin FC)

Coyle made a return to Chennaiyin FC for his second stint with the club and successfully led his side to a commendable position at the end of the season. Renowned for his culture of nurturing young footballers and his attacking style of play, Coyle guided the Marina Machans to a playoff berth after a three-year hiatus.

The Scottish head coach’s attacking-minded football saw them make a late surge in the table as Chennaiyin FC secured a playoff spot, overcoming competition from others.

Staikos Vergetis (Punjab FC)

Despite a challenging beginning to the season, during which they waited 10 matches for their first victory, Punjab FC's debut ISL season stood out for their ability to adapt and deliver standout performances later on.

Head coach Staikos Vergetis worked tirelessly with his players to elevate their game and maximize their potential. Their efforts culminated in securing an eighth-place finish, surpassing teams like East Bengal FC and Bengaluru FC.