NorthEast United FC season review: A misfiring season with more misses than hits
In what was a disappointing season for NorthEast United FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season, there were more misses than hits for the Highlanders who were not able to find the consistency throughout the season.
They began their season under head coach Marco Balbul, followed by Vincenzo Annese, who took charge in the second half of the season after the former's departure and NorthEast United FC struggled to find the right combination. The team found it difficult to get back up after falling down early on in the league, with their first victory coming after the first ten matches. Despite a young and promising squad, the side couldn't click as a unit
As the season went on, the Highlanders' troubles became more severe. They made some crucial winter transfers in an effort to make things better and those drastic adjustments helped them put up some of their best performances in the season's final few games. However, they didn't really change the results. On the pitch, the team's weaknesses were still evident.
Played: 20; Won: 1; Drawn: 2; Losses: 17; Points: 5; Goals For: 20; Goals Against: 55
NorthEast United FC began the new season with a defeat to Bengaluru FC in their first away game. The Highlanders went winless for 10 games and were without a single point in the league standings that comprised in the departure of head coach Marco Balbul and the arrival of Vincenzo Annese. Although they secured their first three points against eventual Hero ISL winners ATK Mohun Bagan, the side couldn't continue their winning momentum.
After the arrival of Italian head coach Vincenzo Annese, the Highlanders were anew to a different brand of football led by the former Hero I-League winner. All of their points this season came under Annese that included some spirited performances against Bengaluru FC, FC Goa, East Bengal FC to name a few.
The Highlanders recorded the worst-ever season in Hero ISL's history, having collected only five points across 20 games. The side were unable to find their footing right from the beginning which saw them concede the most number of goals (55) during the season.
While in attack, they scored the least amount of goals in the league (20). In a season where being optimistic was hard, it only kept getting worse for them.
This season, Wilmar Jordan Gil could be considered as NorthEast United FC's saviour. Gil has been at the top of his game ever since joining the team in January, and his presence in attack improved NorthEast United FC’s performances.
Without him, the team appeared to be largely ineffective. The Colombian scored eight goals in his 11 appearances this season, including the spectacular header against ATK Mohun Bagan that gave the Highlanders their lone victory.
Striking stats by our no.9️⃣ ⚡️— NorthEast United FC (@NEUtdFC) March 16, 2023
Highlanders, your thoughts on Jordan's performance in #HeroISL 2022-23 📊#NEUFC #StrongerAsOne #8States1United pic.twitter.com/cFmjAOAwle
Best Young Player
Gogoi was among the young players who impressed for the Highlanders. He was one of the bright spots in the team that caught the eye of NorthEast United FC fans despite their disappointing performances during the season.
Parthib became a regular starter for the team in the club's final few games after earning the confidence of Annese in the second half of the season. He also scored goals, adding to the constant threat he posed on the wings. With three goals and one assist during the season, Parthib was unquestionably among his team's top performers.
What do they need for next season?
Heartbreaks are a part and parcel of the beautiful game. Defeats are imminent, and as a club, the Highlanders need to start afresh and assess the strengths and weaknessess in their squad. With head coach Annese parting ways after the season, NorthEast United FC will hope to find a suitable replacement soon who could align with the club's project in the long run.