When we did a season preview for Jamshedpur FC, we had predicted a bottom-half finish for the Red Mariners, and they ended the campaign in sixth place in the 11-team Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 table with 27 points, four short of FC Goa who finished fourth. It’ll be wrong to say they never showed the pedigree to become one of the top four teams but their inconsistency and injury, coupled with inexperience cost them a lot of points, hence their first chance to qualify for the playoffs.
Owen Coyle’s men started the campaign with a loss against his old team Chennaiyin FC, however, they buckled up and stitched a six-match unbeaten streak in which they defeated teams like ATK Mohun Bagan and NorthEast United FC. It was a stop-start season for them since then as they failed to grind out wins. After their loss against NEUFC, they shocked Bengaluru FC but then went onto lose against Kerala Blasters, who at that point were reeling in the lower half of the table. Goal scoring was also a problem for the Men of Steel. The man they brought in to score those goals, Nerijus Valskis netted just eight times. He was often seen playing as a second striker or a feeder due to the lack of a provider in the squad. Jackichand Singh who was brought in to fill that role, had a disappointing season with JFC. He scored once and assisted 5 goals before reuniting with Sergio Lobera in January.
They were also at the receiving end of some unlucky refereeing decisions.
Irrespective of where they finished, the Men of Steel under Owen Coyle looked a decent team. Owen Coyle made the most of what he got and notched some pretty stunning results against heavyweights like ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC. Also, the partnership of Peter Hartley and Stephen Eze looked solid as well.
Injuries. Injuries hurt Owen Coyle’s men a lot this season. It could have been a different conversation had Owen Coyle had the luxury to use his bench to its full strength hence allowing Valskis to play in his natural position.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Jamshedpur’s MVP has to be Stephen Eze. The former Nigeria international, despite being a defender is their second-highest top scorer this season with four goals. He formed a decent partnership with Peter Hartley and Jamshedpur conceded 22 goals throughout the season, which is the fourth-best in the league behind ATKMB (15), MCFC (18), HFC (19).
It is hard to pinpoint one or two particular players for this, but we are inclined towards their forward line, led by Nerijus Valskis. The former Chennaiyin FC man did end up becoming JFC’s highest goal-scorer with eight goals, but a lot more was expected from the Lithuanian centre forward who netted almost twice the previous season. The other JFC forwards could only find the back of the net four times.
The Red Miners fans won’t be hugely disappointed with their result this season, keeping in mind how many injuries they had to deal with. However, they would be hoping that they manage to keep Owen Coyle and his new signings at the Furnace and add more quality and depth to the squad to become more competitive the upcoming season and finally break that playoff jinx.