For a team that had only been formed in June 2017, Jamshedpur FC had a great first season, results wise. If victory had been achieved in their final home game against FC Goa, they would have found themselves in the playoff rounds at the expense of the latter. That, however, did not materialize and they ended the season a very creditable fifth.
They had first pick in the player draft before the season began and the signing of Anas Edathodika set the tone for how Jamshedpur would line up for the season. Steve Coppell had placed an emphasis on building results on clean sheets at previous club, Kerala Blasters, and he set about doing the same at his new home. Their first three matches all ended 0-0 and the next four, 1-0, two in favour and two against. It is safe to say that while they were defensively sound, scoring goals themselves was proving to be a problem.
The strategy was pretty clear. A well drilled team kept their shape and organization in defensive areas and conceded only 18 goals all season. They had seven clean sheets and faced the fewest shots, which is impressive considering how little of the ball they had. Jamshedpur averaged 39% possession for the season.
The team would press higher up the pitch to take the ball off their opposition. No other team won more balls per game in the middle and attacking thirds. They had 15.6 interceptions per game, the highest in the league. In an effort to play mostly on the counter, they attempted only 283.6 passes a game, the lowest in the league by some distance. Only 65.7% of those passes found the desired target, again a league worst.
The pass accuracy is a factor of the style a team employs, however, and unlike tiki-taka football where there is a big proportion of sideways and backward passes, Jamshedpur played 50.3% of their balls forward (all the other teams together averaged less than 40%). If they had forward runners with quality and pace, they could probably have done a lot more damage than they did. As it turns out, they scored less than their great defence line conceded and only wooden spooners, NorthEast United, ended up with a lower goal tally than their 16 in 18 games.
Coppell has since hinted at the quality at his disposal last season, suggesting that his players dictated the style he employed, and it remains to be seen if new manager, Cesar Ferrando Jimenez can get more out of the squad. Tim Cahill has been a big name signing but the squad still looks light on quality, even with the new players who have come in. It does not help that a stalwart from last season, Andre Bikey, has followed Coppell to ATK.
If Jamshedpur can come in fifth again, given that most other teams have strengthened, it would be a very good season for the Red Miners.
Last season’s finish: Fifth
FlyingGoalie Prediction For This Season: Ninth