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ISL 2018-19: Past history shows sacking managers mid-season is not worth the pay off

06:30 GMT+3 12/11/2018
Miguel Angel Portugal Pune City
The past four editions of the Indian Super League have proved that replacing coaches in the middle of the campaign has not worked for teams...

After the highs of making their first Indian Super League (ISL) play-offs appearance last season under head coach Ranko Popovic, FC Pune City have had to face a harsh reality check in their current campaign.

Having appointed former Delhi Dynamos coach Miguel Angel Portugal to replace Popovic in the summer, the Stallions were aiming to build on their maiden playoff progression this season. However, that did not go according to plan with the Spaniard sacked from his post just three matches into the campaign.

A draw and two losses were enough for Portugal to get the boot with Pradhyum Reddy taking over as interim coach. The change in personnel has brought no reversal in fortunes so far for Pune with the side slipping into an even more deeper crisis.

So far, Reddy’s reign at Pune has fetched the club a solitary point from four matches with three of them ending in defeats. The former Shillong Lajong head coach’s tenure at the club is not expected to last long with a more permanent appointment expected soon.

However, if history is anything to go by in the ISL, changing head coaches in the middle of the season has never really worked for the clubs involved. Last season, three clubs changed their managers mid-way through their campaign.

Kerala Blasters sacked former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen after a set of disastrous results while NorthEast United FC showed Portuguese Joao de Deus the door after a dreadful run of seven games. At Kolkata, Teddy Sheringham parted ways with ATK after winning just three of his 10 games in charge of the club.

There would be no drastic change in fortunes of the three clubs despite the changes. While the Blasters were able to finish a modest sixth after appointing David James, the other two clubs fared even worse.

NorthEast United finished with the wooden spoon under the eyes of technical director Avram Grant while ATK were second from last after a managerial merry-go-round. Having appointed technical director Ashley Westwood to replace Sheringham, the Kolkata club ended the season with Robbie Keane in a player-cum-coach role.

In the 2015 edition, the Blasters had parted way with head coach Peter Taylor after a run of one win, one draw and four losses from his first six games in charge. He was replaced by his assistant coach Trevor Morgan for one game before Terry Phelan took charge on a permanent basis.

Phelan’s appointment failed to bring the desired turnaround with the club finishing bottom of the table after accumulating only 13 points from their 14 games.

The shorter league-span nature of the ISL as it is makes it difficult for any incoming new coach to impart his footprint to the side immediately. With matches coming in thick and fast with barely any time for preparations, any new coach is going to struggle to stamp his philosophy without the help of a full pre-season with the team.

Hence, if and when Pune City do make a permanent appointment to replace Portugal, the new man will have his task cut out in reigniting a campaign which is fast sinking. Past history in the ISL does not bode well for the next man on the hot seat and the Stallions should be wary of expecting any dramatic turnaround in their fortunes in the near future.