When it came to bolstering the squad, Jamshedpur FC have quite fallen behind in the cut-throat race among the likes of ATK, Kerala Blasters, and Bengaluru FC. However, manager Antonio Iriondo does bring new ideas to the table with another clutch of Spanish armada waiting to test the waters.
One ought to feel for Jamshedpur FC, especially after the way they performed last season. From having a genius at their helm to their fortress witnessing regular footfall, the Steelers have been an ideal example of the exciting football that the Indian Super League has always desired to endow upon the nation. However, with most things going right for them, the two-year-old side is yet to get anywhere near to the most quintessential aspect of running a football club - winning the championship.
Changing two managers in two seasons and the club still stuck to fifth position, the management has decided to bring in yet another new face this time in Antonio Iriondo. And with a Spanish tactician has come in a plethora of Spanish imports who, like last season, would continue to uphold the philosophy of fluid, attacking football.
However, while replacing a Spanish coach with another coach might be tricky, the same cannot be replicated for the flock of players who decided to leave the club after an average season.
Jamshedpur fans were devastated to see their star midfielder Mario Arques leaving for Kerala Blasters, especially after a brilliant season with the club. It was always difficult to replace his attributes in the middle of the park, which included interception, vision and whenever needed – scoring as well. In Noe, Iriondo could compensate most of those nuances through Acosta, but one thing the manager won’t be having on his side in the midfield is age.
At 35, Acosta might be bringing in tons of experience that could really form into something special when blended with Memo’s mastery, but Jamshedpur would always be wary of running out of fuel as the season progresses. Having played for the likes of Atletico Madrid and Olympiakos, Acosta is definitely a supreme addition to ISL and the 35-year-old offensive-minded midfielder could have an impact on JFC’s season as soon as he gets familiarized with the rigours of the league.
Another Spaniard and one who is at the wrong side of 30 yet again, Piti comes in pretty much to provided assistance to JFC’s last season star Carlos Calvo, a winger whose importance cannot be stressed any more. An attacking midfielder primarily, Piti can be seen drifting to the flanks from time to time which makes him a good utility player for any manager.
However, what doesn’t make him a first pick for any manager whomsoever is his 38 years of age. The wide positions were occupied by some very dynamic players like Michael Soossairaj, and Jerry Mawihmingthanga last season, who have both gone, and Piti could at best be a second fiddle to Iriondo’s plan this season, filling in the gaps from time to time.
At 38, the Spaniard, who has previously played for many Spanish lower-tier sides, would bring in a leadership element in the dressing room, which is filled with domestic young players this time.
Okay, so the drill is becoming repetitive here – another midfielder from Spain who is quite past his prime and would be bringing experience and composure to the side. However, this monotonous move can be well explained. Unlike most other cash-rich ISL sides, JFC have always had to stick with more domestic talents, which has also been a part of their initiative to begin with.
Hence, JFC would be seeing the likes of Narender Gahlot plying at the back and Issac Vanmalsawma and Farukh Choudhary in the attacking third. Hence, shoring up the midfield remained a priority and Iriondo has stuffed it up more options.
Monroy, unlike Piti, is expected to see more first-team chances for the amount of hardwork he would be able to put it. Having previously played for Atletico de Madrid among other clubs, Monroy specializes in that central midfield role. However, with Memo and Amarjit Singh already playing there, he would most likely be asked to play in the fringes.
Probably the signing all JFC fans would be waiting with baited breathe to see unfurl is Sergio Catel. Amidst the heap of aged Spanish midfielders, this 25-year-old striker could be like a breath of fresh air at the JRD Tata Sports Complex. However, last season’s flops, Pablo Morgado and Tim Cahill, would definitely be haunting the fans making Castel’s success all the more important.
The Spaniard comes from Atletico Madrid’s B side at the back of 15 goals in 55 Segunda División B matches. At over 6ft, he would bring in the much needed aerial threat from set-pieces, something JFC struggled heavily last season as they had no one barring Tiri to get the goals from the air.
Castel would be well supported by Sumeet Passi and Gourav Mukhi, who as made quite a name for themselves last season, and although Iriondo’s preferred tactics still remain largely a mystery to most ISL sides, Castel is more than likely to spearhead his machinery.
Honestly, this JFC squad, even with the new imports, is looking a step backwards for the club when compared to last season. Getting a creamy layer like Arques and Sergio Cidoncha and then failing to retain them demanded the management to get good replacement at the least. However, with nothing of that sort happening, Antonio Iriondo is expected to have an erratic season at best where his side could lose to the weakest of sides and stun the best of them.