Wednesday shall see two teams who lie in the ninth and tenth positions in the Indian Super League (ISL) come face-to-face. NorthEast United and Delhi Dynamos shall certainly want to avoid finishing with the wooden spoon.
They can possibly look at each other’s season and probably learn what has gone wrong. It would be a time for reflection, introspection and acknowledge, though that’s difficult to expect from most, the issues.
The Indian Super League (ISL) offers the luxury of no relegation given the heavy investment made by each of the franchises. However, the ignominy of ending up tenth in a season when two new teams have come in is certainly mortifying. From an owner’s perspective, it hurts their ego which should probably motivate them to do it better next time around.
In NorthEast United’s case, they have been used to this by now. This would be the fourth consecutive season that they would not make it into the play-offs. They have had five managers, tried focusing on only local north-eastern talent before opting to sign players from other regions.
While John Abraham has claimed that they would be the first franchise to break even in the next year or so, on the field they have been a massive disappointment. Once can suggest that they played good football, could have qualified in season two and three but the fact that they haven’t ever, the tag of being perennial underachievers would ironically go to the club nicknamed The Highlanders.
You have certainly got to question who takes their football decisions as the club continues to suffer. Despite an abundance of talent in the northeast, the club continues to occupy the lower rungs of the ISL table.
On the other hand, Delhi Dynamos are having their worst season ever. It’s a fact that the team which spends the most or at least among the top three spenders ends up leading the standings. The winning team in the ISL is never one which has spent the least. However, for reasons unknown, the club harboured hopes of winning the title with a paltry budget.
So much so that their coach Miguel Angel Portugal has taken a dig by stating that if the aerial challenges are to be won, the club needs to spend more! The former Real Madrid ‘B’ coach made an interesting comment in the aftermath of the draw against Chennaiyin FC.
“But we can’t win with youngsters.” This is a valid point. If you take FC Pune City for example, they have several young players in their squad but they have also spent on proven stars such as Emiliano Alfaro, Marcos Tebar and Marcelinho. This has not been the case with Dynamos though and the results are for all to see. Senior team is all about results and nobody woould care that your club developed XYZ number of players but ended up finishing at the bottom of the table.
Both clubs were miserly in their approach and were forced to spend again in the winter transfer window. NorthEast United changed their coaching staff and brought three new players. Delhi signed their eighth foreign player and replaced Guyon Fernandez with Manuel Arana. Is it a case of being penny wise and pound foolish? We leave that for your discretion.
The attendances have been decreasing at the two venues. Would this attract sponsors in the coming season? Maybe not. Things haven't been going in the right direction for the two clubs.
In NorthEast's case, it's been a feature now which probably makes them a bigger disappointment.