Jamshedpur FC season review: A campaign of two halves and a late revival
From being a mid-table team to a team that created history by winning the League Shield in the previous season of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL), Jamshedpur FC fell way below their own benchmark in the 2022-23 season that saw them drift towards the bottom of the table.
Head coach Aidy Boothroyd - who took over the reigns from former head coach Owen Coyle - had a tough assignment after one of the side's most influential player from their title-winning campaign, Greg Stewart, left the side. While the Indian core of the team remained largely unchanged, they took time to blend in with the new foreign recruits.
Played: 20; Won: 5; Draws: 4; Losses: 11; Points: 19; Goals For: 21; Goals Against: 32
The Shield holders begun the 2022-23 campaign with a shocking 2-3 home defeat to Odisha FC. After two winless games, the side secured their first win of the season in a 1-0 victory over NorthEast United FC. A series of unsatisfactory results persisted as the side were unable to find the right balance under Boothroyd. The Men of Steel found it hard to gain confidence in the first half of the season as they collected just four points from 10 games that included a seven-game winless run.
However, in the second half of the season, with three crucial signings in Pronay Halder, Rafael Crivellaro, and Dylan Fox, the side found their footing. From four points in the first-half of the season to 19 points at the end of the season, Boothroyd's men collected a massive 15 points. They also went on an unbeaten run of four games that included three wins and one draw. After an inspiring turnaround, the 52-year-old felt his project is finally taking shape.
“People talking about the last four games. But for me the last 10 games have been a huge corner, we've returned. We've got a reasonable squad, a strong squad that we need to keep together,” the Englishman said in a post-match press conference.
The four games towards the end of the season which had three wins and a draw against the top six sides helped Jamshedpur FC finish on a strong note after an upsetting campaign following previous season’s heroics. The second half of the season saw the side keep three clean sheets as compared to four in the first half of the season thereby showing the overall improvement in the team as a whole.
The Men of Steel's 11 defeats in a single campaign of the Hero ISL is their highest tally of defeats in a single Hero ISL campaign. The side also dipped way below their standards in terms of their goalscoring aspect, netting only 21 goals across 20 games, matching their tally from the 2020-21 season. Defensively, the side conceded 32 goals, the second-highest they have ever shipped in a single Hero ISL season.
Daniel Chima Chukwu
In a season where the Red Miners fell short in front of the goal with only 21 goals, Daniel Chima Chukwu made history. He became all-time top scorer for Jamshedpur FC with 14 goals, having seven goal involvements in the 2022-23 season which included five goals and two assists to go along the way. Besides being a threat in front of the goal, Chukwu also fulfilled the role of a leader, an attribute which the team lacked and needed during the difficult situations on and off the pitch.
Best Young Player
The 20-year-old goalkeeper was a big positive between the sticks for Aidy Boothroyd’s team. Yadav played a crucial role for the Red Miners as he made 29 saves and conceded 15 goals in nine games, which also comprised of a clever penalty save.
Another Wednesday, another cool wallpaper. 😉— Jamshedpur FC (@JamshedpurFC) March 22, 2023
Claim this wallpaper from our Instagram story 🤳 #JamKeKhelo pic.twitter.com/q03yVeMbyW
The custodian recorded a single clean sheet across the 810 minutes he appeared on the pitch and had a 65.9 percent save rate. Overshadowed by the team's underwhelming performances, Yadav has plenty to look forward to and come back even stronger next season.
What do they need for next season?
While it might have been tough for Boothroyd to effectively implement his philosophy of football at Jamshedpur FC, the side gained momentum towards the end of their season. With the right recruitment of players - domestic as well as foreign, the side does have the ability to challenge for the highest honours. With the Hero Super Cup round the corner, Boothroyd has a good opportunity to tinker with his squad and find the right balance to effectively evaluate his team's strenghts and weaknesses.