How would you respond after a manager who took you to the playoffs in one season leaves without any blatant explanation and leaves you hanging? And how would you react when your star-studded line-up suddenly gets devoid of the names who were a part of that revelation?
All these instances happened with NorthEast United FC before the start of the 2019-20 campaign when their Dutch manager Eelco Schattorie plotted one of the finest runs that the club has ever seen which eventually culminated with a place in the playoffs in the previous season.
Stalwarts such as Rowllin Borges Bartholomew Ogbeche and Mato Grgic all took a different route ahead of the ongoing season, joining different clubs in search of adding a silverware against their names. But what was left of NorthEast United was a promise unfulfilled.
Enter Robert Jarni.
The thrill survives
The coach of the Croatian Under-20 team, Jarni was vested with the responsibility of taking charge and making the team believe again in their title pursuits in the new season. His first order of business was to rebuild his squad which saw some of the best players in the league like Ogbeche and Borges leave the Highlanders.
Many would have thought that NorthEast United will be reeling from the departure of their manager and their first-choice players, but the signing of Asamoah Gyan and Martin Chaves clearly displayed their efforts of reconstructing their attacking intent.
Gyan has been Jarni’s front runner, with the Ghanaian taking up his premier role in being the face of the attack while Chaves and Redeem Tlang look to benefit from the experience of the 34-year-old talismanic forward.
Redeem has netted two goals in successive games and is up and running, making headways in the team. The opposition coaches will be keeping a watchful eye on the 24-year-old who seems to have taken the mantle of scoring incessantly whenever the Highlanders are in a tricky situation.
Even in the backline, the arrival of Kai Herrings from the Netherlands has ensured similar stability that the club enjoyed in the 2018-19 campaign. The pairing of Kai and Mislav Komorski has garnered positive results while captain Jose Leudo and new signing Milan Singh have also played major roles in the club’s defensive line, conceding just three goals so far.
Another bright start to the campaign
NorthEast United have yet again started off on a positive note and are amongst the three sides who are still unbeaten this season. This is their second season in which the club is yet to lose after their first four matches. They have scored five goals in their first four matches this season, their second-best goal-scoring rate since the inception of the league in 2014.
Since the start of last season, NorthEast United have lost just once in 12 matches at home and that can only send a warning to teams across the league pertaining to their superiority at home.
NorthEast United’s story is one of resilience and patience which teaches us that even when you’re put down, you need to keep your spirits high. Undefeated after four matches, let’s hope the club can keep the same momentum down the line in the league.
Featured image courtesy: AFP/ Dibgyangshu Sarkar