Can we expect better things from NorthEast United FC in ISL 2020-21?
NorthEast United FC's Best Finish in ISL: Semi-finalists (2018-19)
Other Trophies: None
NorthEast United FC Head Coach: Gerard Nus
NorthEast United FC has been a part of the Indian Super League ever since the inaugural edition in 2014. However, they still haven't been able to establish their authority as one of the major forces in the ISL.
In the six seasons thus far, NorthEast have made it to the playoffs only once and finished at the bottom half of the table thrice. The main reason behind their dismal performances almost every season is the constant chopping and changing they have undergone. They have had seven different managers taking charge in six seasons and that pretty much sums up why they have been so inconsistent.
NorthEast finished ninth among 10 teams last season but they will be hoping for much better returns as they embark upon their journey in the 2020-21 season under new manager Gerard Nus.
How did NorthEast United FC fare in the last ISL season?
Out of the 18 matches NorthEast United played last season, they won only two and drew eight. Each of their drawn encounters could have been valuable victories for them but they fell short every time because of their inability to score. They scored only 16 goals during the 2019-20 season, which was the least among all teams.
In terms of defence, there were four other teams who had conceded more than NorthEast United's tally of 30 goals -- three of those four clubs even finished ahead of them in the points table. That clearly goes on to tell how better returns in terms of scoring might have helped them finish higher in the league last season.
NorthEast United Squad for ISL 2020-21 season
The club has acquired more than 20 fresh players for this edition of the ISL. Among them, the acquisitions of Idrissa Sylla from Jupiler Pro League, Dylan Fox from the A-League and Luis Machado from Portugal's Liga Nos are the main highlights.
Sylla and Machado have a very important role to play as NorthEast's offensive play is crying out for improvement since last season. Both of these players have been proven scorers in their career and will be looking to continue doing the same in their maiden ISL outings. The 26-year-old Centre-Back Dylan Fox has been an epitome of reliability for the A-League side Central Coast over the years and hence, Nus will be hoping for the same kind of commitment from him to NorthEast's backline as well.
Then there is 33-year-old Belgian Centre-Back Benjamin Lambot as well to partner Fox at the back. He brings some much-needed experience to their defensive lines as well and the arrival of Khassa Camara in the defensive midfield role further boosts their backline.
As far as Indian players are considered, Ashutosh Mehta, Rakesh Pradhan, Lalengmawia, Lalrempuia Fanai and Suhair VP add some much-needed edge to the squad. NorthEast United acquired Mehta and Suhair from Mohun Bagan. While Mehta is an attacking fullback, Suhair is one of the best Indian forwards at present.
The most important role though will be that of Federico Gallego. He is their main playmaker and has been with the club for two seasons now. Even though he went through a rough patch last season, Gallego did seem like he was gaining his form back towards the end. Now he has a fair idea about how things work in Indian football and that's why he is going to be the most vital cog of their team.
Goalkeepers: Gurmeet Singh, Nikhil Deka, Subhasish Roy Chowdhary, Sanjiban Ghosh
Defenders: Ashutosh Mehta, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox, Gurjinder Kumar, Mashoor Shereef, Nabin Rabha, Nim Dorjee, Provat Lakra, Rakesh Pradhan, Wayne Vaz
Midfielders: Federico Gallego, Khassa Camara, Lalengmawia, Lalrempuia Fanai, Rochharzela, Imran Khan
Forwards: Britto PM, Idrissa Sylla, Ninthoi, Kwesi Appiah, Lalkhawpuimawia, Luis Machado, Suhair VP
NorthEast United FC predictions for 2020-21 ISL season
NorthEast United's defence looks pretty good with the likes of Mehta, Pradhan, Fox and Lambot there but a lot will depend on how their offensive line fares in this edition. Gallego needs to be at his best and the likes of Sylla and Machado have to link up well up front to bring the necessary results as well. It will take some time for Gerard Nus to understand the other teams' style of play as well but he has to ensure that NorthEast don't drop too many points initially in the season. On paper, they have a decent roster but certainly not one that can challenge the quality that most other teams have. However, their squad looks good enough to earn a mid-table finish for their side, which would be much better as compared to how they fared last time.