FC Pune City and NorthEast United: Time to end the managerial merry-go-round

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Six coaches in five seasons and yet to achieve success on the field, Pune City and NorthEast United need to put an end to the coaching rollercoaster

When the Indian Super League began in 2014, the eight franchises that signed up for the new football league were after reputed managers and marquee players.

They were desperate to attract football lovers into the stadium to watch the matches and wanted big names at the helm. It was more about marketing than having a sustainable model of football development that will help in the long-term. 

In the four seasons, some franchises have stuck to one or two coaches while others have seen a new coach take charge of them every season.

Marcelinho Ranko Popovic Mumbai City FC FC Pune City ISL 4 2017/2018

The two clubs who have never retained a manager are FC Pune City and NorthEast United. Both these clubs have employed five head coaches so far in four seasons of ISL.

FC Pune have seen Franco Colomba, David Platt, Antonio Habas and Ranko Popovic come and go as the head coach in the last four years. Marcos Paqueta was announced as the head coach ahead of the fifth season but he terminated his contract to join Botafogo withing weeks of his unveiling. 

It is not as if the clubs have been exceeding expectations on the field. Pune City entered the playoffs for the first time last season and they chose not to extend his contract. Miguel Angel Portugal is set to be Pune City's sixth coach in the five editions of ISL.

The new coaches have very little time to implement their system in the team and even the players have a hard time adapting to different philosophies. "It is always difficult for the players because last season we had a different coach and a different philosophy, we were playing attacking football. But Angel focuses on ball possession, keep the ball as much as you can, dispose the opponent and wait for your chances. It is always difficult," Adil Khan was honest in his assessment of the situation when asked about the managerial changes at the club. 

Antonio Habas Kerala Blasters FC FC Pune City ISL season 3 2016

NorthEast United's situation is even worse. They are the only team yet to achieve a playoff spot since the inception of the league and wrong choices at the helm has been a major factor behind their failure.

Like the Stallions, NorthEast United also had a head coach change clubs after he was unveiled by the club. Sergio Farias left for the Thai league before the start of the third season, leaving Highlanders in a tight spot. 

Ricki Herbert, Nelo Vingada and Cesar Farias tried and failed to break the club's playoff jinx in the first three editions. Joao De Deus took charge last season but his ideas backfired, sending the team tumbling down to the bottom of the table. 

John Abraham Nelo Vingada NorthEast United FC FC Goa ISL Season 3 2016

De Deus was sacked midway through the season and former Chelsea manager Avram Grant was brought in as a caretaker coach. The league position failed to improve as NorthEast United registered their worst ever season in ISL in terms of points and position.

NorthEast United's new coach for the fifth season is Eelco Schattorie. The Dutchman will be under immense pressure to succeed. Avram Grant was handed the role of the technical advisor for the fifth season but he has since joined Panathinaikos

Joao de Deus NorthEast United FC Mumbai City FC ISL 4 2017/2018

"The challenge is that there is huge pressure on me. If you have never qualified, you are asked to do so," Schattorie has said before the start of the new season. His references to Taj Mahal, Mini Cooper and Ferrari further confirms that things aren't rosy at the helm.

Both these clubs are yet to find stability when it comes to coaches. As the league grows, the planning and execution of long-term projects should be an objective for the clubs and these two are yet to find their footing.

Every year, NorthEast and Pune City project a positive outlook at the start when they appoint a coach but end up sacking him and bringing onboard a new manager. Perhaps, the fault lies with the management.

Either trust and give the coach time or choose a coach who does not need it.

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