NorthEast United’s journey in the Indian Super League so far has been rather disappointing. The club has finished in the bottom two in three out of the six seasons, ending with the wooden spoon two times.
In the other campaigns, the Highlanders finished fifth twice, failing to make the playoffs by a whisker with the 2018-’19 season being the only time NorthEast United made the semi-finals. Having lost to Bengaluru FC that season, NorthEast United have never made the final.
NorthEast United record in the ISL
|2014||Finished eighth (bottom place)|
|2015||Finished fifth (Failed to qualify for SF)|
|2016||Finished fifth (Failed to qualify for SF)|
|2017-'18||Finished tenth (bottom place)|
|2018-'19||Finished fourth. Lost in semis|
|2019-'20||Finished ninth (Failed to qualify for SF)|
Managerial instability has been a problem at the Guwahati-based club with the Highlanders always starting a new campaign with a new man in charge at the helm. Gerard Nus who was appointed as the team’s head coach ahead of the 2020-’21 campaign is the club’s ninth manager in seven seasons.
NorthEast United usually enjoy a fair amount of support in Guwahati where they play at the Indira Gandhi stadium and with the season set to be hosted in Goa behind closed doors, NorthEast United are certain to be among the clubs that would be hurt by the lack of fans.
What’s changed for 2020-’21
Ins: Wayne Waz, Sanjiban Ghosh, Gurjinder Kumar, Gurmeet, Idrissa Sylla, Dylan Fox, Pragyan Gogoi, Benjamin Lambot, Kwesi Appiah, Rochharzela, Lalkhawpuimmawia, Ashutosh Mehta, Suhair PV, Imran Khan, Nabin Rabha, Britto PM, Luis Machado, Khassa Camara, Mashoor Shereef
Outs: Simon Lundevall, Soram Anganba, Reagen Singh, Mislav Komorski, Puitea, Souvik Ghosh, Pawan Kumar, Kai Heerings, Milan Singh, Redeem Tlang, Rupert Nongrum, Andy Keogh, Nikhil Kadam, Martin Chaves, Jose Leudo.
NorthEast United virtually have a brand new team. The club signed 19 new players in the recent transfer window with 15 players heading out. Among the big ones to leave were Redeem Tlang, the young winger who impressed for the club in the last two seasons and foreigners Jose Leudo and Martin Chaves.
Foreign signings Idrissa Sylla and Kwesi Appiah stand out, so does the recruitment of Indian players like Rochharzela and Ashutosh Mehta.
NorthEast United have always struggled for goals. The club has scored 95 goals in 98 ISL games and are the only team in the competition to average less than a goal per game.
However, that could change this season with the Highlanders heading into the new campaign with a strong attack that has a good mix of Indian and foreign players.
Sylla and Appiah have had decent careers in England and will add plenty of experience. Luis Machado who has signed from the Portuguese top-division side is also an exciting talent.
Among the Indians, Lalkhawpuimmawia had a good season with Churchill Brothers in the I-League while, VP Suhair was part of the Mohun Bagan side that won the competition last season. Former Aizawl midfielder Rocharzela is among the top upcoming talents in Indian football.
The combination of all these players should result in plenty of goals for NorthEast United.
There’s not a lot of experience among the Indian players at NorthEast United and there are only two Indian players in the squad have played over 20 matches in the ISL.
The squad is a new one and with teams not getting enough time to prepare it may take NorthEast United some time to gel well with each other. ISL isn’t a big tournament and a slow start could prove to be very costly for a team.
In goal, Subhasish Roy Choudhary also doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.
Coach: Gerard Nus
Nus has worked at some of the biggest clubs and with some top managers. He was part of Rafa Benitez’s staff at Liverpool and was also an assistant coach to Avram Grant when he managed the Ghana national team.
Nus has also had coaching spells at Brighton and similar roles at Elche and Rayo Vallecano. However, the Spaniard has only had two stints as head coach. The first one with Rayo Oklahoma City in the second tier of football in the US and Irtysh Pavlodar, a top-tier club in Kazakhstan. He had a rather poor track record at both these clubs with a winning percentage of less than 50.
But with Spanish coaches finding success in the ISL, Nus will hope to build on it with NorthEast United. Having worked a lot with younger players in the past, the 35-year-old could prove to be the perfect man to get the best out of this young Highlanders team
Player to watch out for: Idrissa Sylla
The Guinea international has had a decent career playing at top-level European leagues, having spent most of his time playing in the top division of Belgium and England’s Championship. A former Queens Park Rangers striker, Sylla found the net 17 times for the London club.
With 27 appearances for the Guinea national team, Sylla has plenty of experience under his belt. He will be tasked at scoring the bulk of the Highlanders’ goals this season and could enhance the team’s chances of reaching the semi-finals if he hits the ground running in Indian football.
|Gurmeet||Ashutosh Mehta||Federico Gallego||Britto PM|
|Nikhil Deka||Benjamin Lambot||Imran Khan||Idrissa Sylla|
|Sanjiban Ghosh||Dylan Fox||Khassa Camara||Ninthoinganba Meitei|
|Subhasish Roychowdhury||Gurjinder Kumar||Lalengmawia||Kwesi Appiah|
|Mashoor Shereef||Lalrempuia Fanai||Lalkhawpuimmawia|
|Nabin Rabna||Pragyan Gogoi||Luis Machado|
|Nim Dorjee||Rochharzela||Suhair Vadekkpeedika|