The Indian Super League's (ISL) fourth edition may yet be ninety and more days away from kick-off, but the engine rooms of preparation have already kicked into gear for most of the competing franchises.
Let's remember, this edition of the country's most watched football tournament has 10 teams vying for Atletico de Kolkata's crown in what is expected to be a melee of a season in 2017. In this regard, the personnel team managements' anoints for delivery of success are as important as the eleven men who take to the pitch to win games.
Goal lists out a complete catalog of the coaches entrusted to turn otherwise mere also-ran seasons into championship winning ones for the supporters' community but also for the sphere of Indian football.
As a Manchester United treble-winner, Sheringham will have all the pressure ladled onto him as he takes the reins of the ISL's most successful franchise - Atletico de Kolkata. His calibre as a player is unquestioned. However, as a coach Teddy will have a lot to prove in India. The presence of Technical Director Ashley Westwood should help him though.
After just a solitary coaching stint at Stevenage, a British tier two side last season, all eyes will be on the 51 year-old coach, with him seeking to retain the franchises' status as champions in the fourth season.
Having endured a poor season by their lofty standards, Bengaluru FC's opening foray into the ISL will be guided by their Spanish coach who needs to see a successful second season pan out ahead of him.
The 55 year-old coach has just won the Federation Cup just two months ago, but knows full well it's at the league stage of the ISL where he must get things right from the get-go. His Southern Eagles finished a disappointing fourth last time around in the I-League.
A former England international, the 63 year-old was a constant fixture in midfield for the likes of Northampton Town, Queens Park Rangers and Derby County during his playing days. He managed Aston Villa in the Premier League between 1998 and 2002 during which he oversaw massive improvement in Villa's league form.
They were even leading the league midway through 1998-99 season before dropping off. He last managed Crawley Town before stepping down in 2014, citing health issues. He has a job on his hands, after Chennaiyin could only finish a disappointing seventh in the last season.
|MIGUEL ANGEL PORTUGAL|
Taking over the reins of the club from legendary Italian Gianluca Zambrotta, who managed to lead the club to the ISL semifinals last season, Angel doesn't have a small job on his hands. The 61-year-old though is experienced enough to deal with the pressure. He also has extensive experience in Spain, having managed the likes of Real Madrid Castilla, Cordoba and Racing Santander during his managerial career.
Following in the footsteps of a fan favourite is never easy but Sergio Lobera is set to put the theory to test when the ISL's fourth edition kicks off in the football heartland of Goa. Taking over Zico's throne, Lobera needs to prime his game not just in the face of opponents, but also an infectiously passionate crowd.
Lobera last coached in Morocco for Moghreb Tetouan from where he was dismissed last month due to a string of poor results. He has famously worked for Barcelona's youth academy for eight years between 1999 and 2007. Lobera guided Barcelona’s Alevin A side in the Futbol 7 Preferente league on an unbeaten run for two consecutive seasons. He has also worked as an assistant coach at Barcelona for a month alongside late Tito Vilanova.
|LOGO TBD||STEVE COPPELL|
Kerala Blasters' loyal and adoring fans will have been disappointed to learn that the English coach who guided them to a second ISL will not be in charge as the Mahut come the fourth edition of the frenzied tournament. Whats heart-breaking, however, is the fact that Coppell will turn to coach the league's newest entrants from Jamshedpur, owned by the Tatas.
The 62 year-old coach has a wealth of experience behind his back, with stints at Reading, Manchester City and Crystal Palace, Breaking his ISL ice last season, the Liverpudlian guided the Sachin Tendulkar co-owned side to the runners-up spot. With an eye for talent and strategy, Coppell will hope to give wings to his squad in Jamshedpur and win the trophy he missed out on last time around.
Kerala Blasters continued their streak of hiring first time coaches to the hotseat, when they announced that former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen would be taking over the reins of the first team come edition four of the popular tournament. The much-appreciated Meulensteen was the first-team coach at United from 2007 onward as he played an integral role in the Red Devils winning three Premier League titles and a Champions League title in 2008.
In the Dutchman, the Tuskers' management have a manager who has taken over jobs in Russia (Anzhi Makhachkala) and the English Championship with Fulham. The 51 year-old has also coached in Israel with Maccabi Haifa.
The Costa Rican coach returns to the bastion he called home last season, with Mumbai City FC. The 57 year-old former Costa Rica manager will seek to propel the club beyond the semi-final stage, to where he led the Ranbir Kapoor co-owned team in the ISL's last instalment.
He led the Mumbai-based side to the top of the league table last time around before falling in the semifinals. This time, he will be determined to go at least one step further.
|JOAO DE DEUS|
The 40-year-old is a former national team manager of the West African nation, Cape Verde between 2008-2010. In 2014, the managerial job of Sporting Clube de Portugal 'B' was offered to him and De Deus then went on to spend three seasons in Cristiano Ronaldo's boyhood club's reserve team.
Joining the Sportinguistas midway in the 2014-15 season, De Deus took the team to a fifth place finish in his maiden year. The following year, they only managed the tenth spot before parting ways with the club in February 2017 after the club was in danger of being relegated. He then managed the Primera Liga side CD Nacional Funchal for eight games, leaving the side by mutual consent after they managed just one win and a draw under his tutelage.
The new season of the ISL will want to see a bit of Antonio Habas' fireworks. Having failed with the franchise last season, the Spaniard will want to return rekindled and with a plan to take on the aims and ambitions of the Punekars. Having coached Atletico de Kolkata to a storming season in 2014, gripe and a lack of form have gripped the outfits coached by the former Valencia coach in the last two seasons.
The 60 year-old, Pozoblanco-born coach has rich pedigree behind his name having coached in South America (Bolivan national team assistant) and Celta Vigo. He will in all likelihood return to the den of the Shree Chhatrapati Balewadi Sports complex, seeking a second title and uplifting the football spirits of the city.