NorthEast United are struggling in the Indian Super League. NorthEast United have sacked their manager. Again.
Even during times when nothing seems to be quite the same, the Highlanders are following the usual script. For the third time in four seasons, the club has parted ways with their head coach midway through the season with the team lagging behind in the race for the semi-finals.
In six years of existence, the club has had nine different managers.
List of NorthEast United managers
|Ricki Herbert||New Zealand||13 October 2014||20 December 2014|
|César Farías||Venezuela||30 June 2015||20 December 2015|
|Nelo Vingada||Portugal||23 July 2016||15 May 2017|
|João de Deus||Portugal||17 July 2017||3 January 2018|
|Avram Grant||Israel||4 January 2018(caretaker)12 January 2018(Head Coach)||14 August 2018|
|Eelco Schattorie||Netherlands||17 August 2018||19 May 2019|
|Robert Jarni||Croatia||05 August 2019||10 February 2020|
|Khalid Jamil (caretaker)||India||10 February 2020||05 August 2020|
|Gerard Nus||Spain||25 August 2020||13 January 2021|
Was Nus unlucky?
Gerard Nus, merely eleven games into his tenure at the club, is the latest managerial casualty. A seven-game winless run can put any coach’s position in jeopardy, but at NorthEast United – a club that has anyway largely underachieved in the ISL – such ruthlessness seems a bit out of place.
Additionally, Nus has not been the worst coach the club has seen and despite poor recent form, has NorthEast United placed just three points behind the semi-final spots with over half a season still to go.
Only three previous NEUFC managers had a better points-per-game ratio than Nus and all of them lasted the full season.
NorthEast United head coach record
|Joao de Deus||0.88|
As far as managerial instability is concerned, only Kerala Blasters have a worse record in the ISL, who have had ten different managers in six years.
Most managerial changes in ISL
|Teams||Number of managerial spells||Matches per manager|
|Mumbai City FC||5||22|
|Delhi Dynamos and Odisha FC||6||18|
|FC Pune City||6||13|
Lack of identity
In its statement announcing the departure of Nus, the club highlighted a “contrast in the team’s current tactics and the Club’s philosophy and vision” as the reason for parting ways with the Spaniard. While Nus’ side didn’t display any set pattern of play that seemed to work, one wonders if any coach has ever managed to achieve that at NorthEast United.
Apart from the spell under Eelco Schattorie, where NorthEast United played a fairly progressive brand of football, the team’s play hasn’t portrayed any particular philosophy on the pitch.
To establish a style of play or a footballing philosophy at a club, it requires patient and consistent efforts and the recruitment of coaches plays a big part in it. The Highlanders have neither shown the necessary patience with their coaches nor have shown consistency in their appointments.
FC Goa, initially under Zico and then under Sergio Lobera, have always played attacking football. That philosophy has continued under Juan Ferrando although the systems and tactics have changed.
ATK and now ATK Mohun Bagan have always been a pragmatic outfit, with Antonio Habas in charge for four out of the six seasons.
At NorthEast United, constant changes and appointing coaches with fairly distinct philosophies has been at the heart of the problems.
The lack of stability has reflected in the results of the club as well. NorthEast United have the worst win percentage and points per game ratio in ISL history.
|Teams||No of managerial spells||Win%||Points per game|
|Mumbai City FC||5||41.8||1.48|
|FC Pune City||6||27||1.25|
|Odisha FC and Delhi Dynamos||6||30||1.14|
The results ultimately reflect poorly on the club management who have failed to make the right decisions for the club on more occasions than one.
As Khalid Jamil takes over for the second time in an interim role, he will have another shot at changing the club’s fortunes. But at a club where managerial changes and underperformance are the only constants, he has a huge task on his hands.