Jamshedpur FC season review: A Fairytale ending missed by a whisker
From being a mid-table team to creating history by winning the League Winners’ Shield, Jamshedpur FC have outshone themselves, not just in terms of winning honours and games, but in their style of play, having a strong suit of young players at the core, and playing it tactically smart under the excellence of Scottish head coach Owen Coyle.
Building a team from players who missed out on playing XI in their respective clubs, Coyle worked his magic to nurture those players and bring the best out of them across his tenure of two seasons. Cut to today, they are arguably the best team in the country, not with the greatest or best individual players but surely a fearless team which functions as a unit.
Pl: 20; W: 13; D: 04; L: 03; Pts: 43
The first half of the season was average for Jamshedpur FC, as they won just four out of ten games. But Owen Coyle put his side into top gear in the second half as they won nine out of ten games including a seven-game winning streak. The Men of Steel won at least one game against every opponent excluding Bengaluru FC, which is another extraordinary feat in their fairytale story.
The Men of Steel produced a performance no other team has been able to match till date. Coyle’s men registered a record of achieving the most points in the season (43), greater than any team at the end of the league phase of a Hero ISL 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).
Further, Coyle’s side set a new record for the longest winning streak (7-game) in Hero ISL history. This remarkable feat came in the final seven games of the league phase of the season which included victories against heavyweights like Kerala Blasters FC, Mumbai City FC, Hyderabad FC, and ATK Mohun Bagan.
Apart from honours and statistics, Coyle deserves a huge applause for turning young Indian players into thriving and promising ones who have been at the forefront of the Jamshedpur gameplan. The likes of Ritwik Das, Komal Thatal, Boris Singh, Jitendra Singh amongst others have outperformed themselves and caused havoc for their opponents.
For a team to achieve these accolades, Jamshedpur FC haven’t faltered anywhere in the season. You may pick sides over their performances at the start of the season but that will lead to you where they are right now: League Winners.
If any, the only negative would be Men of Steel failing to make it to the finals and eventually winning it. Showing excellency and brilliance throughout the season, winning both - the League Winners’ Shield as well as the Hero ISL title would have been a dream come true for the Red Miners.
No guesses as to who takes this one. The Scotsman Greg Stewart produced numerous extraordinary performances including scoring the club’s first-ever hat-trick in the history of the Hero ISL. Leading the charts for most assists (10), Stewart comes second in the list of top goalscorers (10), eight behind Bartholomew Ogbeche.
Although the team played as a unit without being overdependent on the forward, Stewart was at the heart of the Jamshedpur FC attack, the chief orchestrator, be it crosses, assists, goals, or winning the ball back.
Best Young Player:
Jitendra Singh has perhaps been a great revelation for Owen Coyle. The holding midfielder has been a vital cog for his side, making 67 tackles, 23 blocks, 19 interceptions, and 10 clearances in 19 games. Almost an undroppable asset for Coyle, Singh shows signs of an excellent central midfielder in the making and has the potential to be a great force in the midfield.
What do they need for next season?
The Men of Steel have been a formidable side this season and have ticked as many boxes as possible in terms of performances. For the coming season, Jamshedpur FC need to retain their core group of players namely Ritwik Das, Greg Stewart, TP Rehenesh amongst many others, and find an addition in an experienced Indian men’s national team player to boost the squad.