When Eelco Schattorie was appointed as the head coach of NorthEast United, it was met with scepticism. In fact, the owners had to convince the organisers to allow the former United SC coach to take charge.
Ahead of the season five, NorthEast didn’t have the best of preparation. In fact, it would be fair to state that they had the worst pre-season of all teams. They were in India and struggled to get games against quality oppositions.
Add to that the budget constraint which meant that if any other club in the Indian Super League (ISL) was going for the same player as NorthEast, on most occasions the player wouldn’t join the Highlanders because of their wages not being on par with the rest of the league.
“You cannot make from a Mini Cooper a Ferrari. You have to look at the quality and then fit it into a system. My intention is always to win. But you have to keep in mind the quality as well. We are still in the process,” said Schattorie before of the season kick-started.
And eight games into the season, NorthEast United find themselves in the second position above the likes of FC Goa, ATK, Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters. Schattorie has certainly made a lot of progress in turning his Mini Cooper into a Ferrari.
Despite the injury issues he has had to deal with, the northeastern side has successfully negotiated their last two games and won six points.
Against FC Pune City, although the home side created quite a few chances, NorthEast defended as a collective unit. Federico Gallego, who operates as a number 10, was seen tracking back in order to win back possession. Bartholomew Ogbeche, while he is known for his goalscoring exploits, his work rate and hold-up play have been exceptional.
Schattorie has taken an unfancied team, which didn’t have any big names so to say, and turned them into a team which is very much in contention for a playoff spot. It wouldn’t be wrong to state that they have several discards in their squad whom Schattorie has groomed to use to his advantage.
And he has done it without compromising on style. NorthEast United’s matches in the ISL are entertaining given that they always look to attack and play positive football.
The point is that if Schattorie can make the difference with one of the least fancied squads in the league, he could certainly do much better if provided with more quality at his disposal.
ISL season five has seen Schattorie spring the biggest surprise.