ISL is going in full swing in Goa. After matchday 6/7 we have a very closely contested top 4, Fighting bottom half, some crunch post-match conferences and a few fights among the coaches. Entertainment wise we have a very closely fought ISL this year. A lot of matches hinged on 1 goal difference. Red cards are coming infrequently. If you watch a game definitely you will want to either watch the next game or at least keep a track of what’s happening. It’s without a shred of doubt a pure drama. From Gerard Nus of North East United FC getting pushed by players and Juan Fernando cheering the push to Robbie Fowler criticizing the quality of the league and the omnipresent tension of the Kolkata Derby; ISL is the box office of Indian Football.
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Here we will rate the top 5 coaches based on their team performance, approach to the game, and tactics.
5. Juan Ferrando:
The Spanish tactician has the experience of coaching at some of his home clubs and also in Greece. Ferrando once worked at the academies of both FC Barcelona and Malaga. His most invaluable experience was when he joined Arsenal in 2010 to work as a fitness coach under Arsene Wenger. His first tenure in the Indian Super League kick-started with FC Goa. Even though FC Goa is currently in the lower half of the table but the manager promised some exciting days. Last years league leaders Goa FC took a hit when their star players left the club. They are still finding their rhythm under the new coach. So far they have lost 3 matches but those losses came after some hard matches. It’s very early in the season and Goa looks strong. Fernando has the flair to win. He will try to get back to the top 4 as soon as possible.
4. Gerard Nus
Gerard Nus is a 35 years old Spanish Coach. North East United FC is one of those teams that have these great youngsters and a fantastic academy but yet to play an ISL final. They show early promise every season but somehow they lose their momentum. This season they started well under Gerard. When he joined NEUFC, he promised he won’t be like the previous coaches. He will play attacking football and make sure the players enjoy such a difficult season without fans. He is one of the most active and involved coaches among the others in ISL. He joined NEUFC with great optimism. They lost only once under him. They even defeated the heavyweights East Bengal by 2:0. His team’s performance against Bengaluru FC in a tough 2:2 draw showed tremendous character and fight. Last season those kinds of closely contested matches ended in a loss.
3. Owen Coyle
With Owen Coyle as head coach, Jamshedpur will be led by someone who took Chennaiyin FC all the way to the ISL final last season. Their ranking at the moment doesn’t justify their performance. They defeated the reigning champions ATK Mohun Bagan and recently handed North East United FC their maiden defeat. They are one of those who looks exciting and happening. Their defense is a little sketchy but going forward they look dangerous. Owen Coyle is one of the most underrated coaches this season. Jamshedpur FC is also a new team and they don’t get the limelight like the other heavyweights. So keep an eye on them. They are surely one of the title contenders this season. Underdogs.
2. Antonio López Habas
The most successful manager in the history of ISL Antonio Habas is the current manager for ATK Mohun Bagan FC. He delivered the title to ATK FC in 2014 and last season (2019-20) and has been retained by the club for this term. He started just where he left last season. His team commanded their presence in ISL by defeating their derby counterpart East Bengal in a 2:0 victory. They lost only once against Jamshedpur FC. But they look strong and Habas definitely knows a thing or two about how to approach a league and win it. He is equipped with a better understanding of the dynamics between the teams with such vast experience.
1. Sergio Lobera.
Mumbai City Fc is a major entity in ISL. With big money and big influence, they brought in the Spanish tactician Sergio Lobera. The Spaniard was most recently was the Head Coach at FC Goa, winning the Super Cup in 2019 to much acclaim. Under him, they also managed to win the League Shield in the 2019-20 season. With him, he brought in star players from Goa FC to Mumbai City FC. He was adamant about bringing in the players who were pivotal to their last season’s success. They delivered as promised. Sergio Lobera’s team sits at the top of the table and they look bright and set for the season. The players look familiar with what the coach wants. Despite their opening day defeat they kept their morale high and went on to win their next 4 matches. Mumbai City FC will test the other teams for sure and Sergio Lobera is up for the title contention.