Owen Coyle joins Jamshedpur FC on two-year deal

Former Bolton Wanderers striker and manager will look to help new club break semi-final barrier.
Owen Coyle(Special arrangement)
Owen Coyle(Special arrangement)
Updated on Aug 07, 2020 10:01 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Kolkata | ByDhiman Sarkar

Jamshedpur FC (JFC) named Owen Coyle, who sparked a remarkable turnaround for Chennaiyin FC last season, as their head coach on Friday. Joining on a two-year deal, the former Bolton Wanderers and Dundee United striker is the fourth coach in as many seasons of the Indian Super League (ISL) the franchise has played.

“Every year we wanted the coach to stay. We definitely thought Steve (Coppell) would stay (in the first season) but things change and results matter. We want to build the club so with Owen we have a longer commitment,” said Mukul Choudhari, the club’s CEO at an online media conference.

“A two-year contract shows that you want to build something,” said Coyle, snapping his fingers to show that things don’t change overnight but “needs a lot of repetition.”

Coyle’s first game as a coach in India was against JFC in December. It ended 1-1. Going into that game, Chennaiyin FC had a solitary win and five points from six games. From there, they made the final, having been unbeaten in their last eight league games -- a run which included six wins --- before stunning league winners FC Goa in the semi-finals. They lost 1-3 to ATK in the final.

“We know what he did at Chennaiyin FC. At JFC we would say, ‘let’s get into the top four.’ Now I am not looking at the top four. I am looking at the top two,” said club chairman Chanakya Chaudhary.

Hit by a string of serious injuries to key players such as Spaniards Sergio Castel, Piti and Tiri, JFC finished eighth in the 10-team competition last season. Playing ISL since 2017-18, JFC have never made the semi-finals; their best being fifth-place finishes in the first two seasons.

“Before my first experience of Jamshedpur, I was told they have the best facilities in India. I must say I wasn’t too disappointed. The stadium, the training ground and the hospitality were excellent. The playing field is as good as anywhere in the world and I have managed at Wembley. We want to be a team that is pleasing to the eye but we also want to be a team that wins football matches. The margins in ISL are really fine and we need to come out on the right side of those margins,” said Coyle, 54.

To that end, Coyle said JFC are “working very hard to get a top striker” adding that they are “close to an exciting signing.” Coyle also spoke of defender Narender Gahlot and midfielder Amarjit Singh Kiyam as being among the “exciting young Indian players” he is looking forward to working with. Coyle played JFC twice last term, winning the home tie 4-1.

JFC, Choudhari said, would like to do their pre-seasons in the city or state ISL will be held. That way we can get around the 14-day quarantine rules in place, he said. Because of Covid-19, ISL is likely to be held in one state this time with Goa and Kerala being the frontrunners.

“The ISL this time will be a different challenge physically and mentally but it will be a level playing field for everybody,” said Coyle. According to the draft Standard Operating Procedure shared with teams, players won’t be allowed to leave the hotel, won’t have meals together and will be split into groups to go to training and for games.

Coyle, who has managed Bolton Wanderers and Burnley in the Premier League and Houston Dynamos in USA’s Major League Soccer, will be joined by his long-time assistant Alexander ‘Sandy’ Stewart.

Defensive midfielder Aitor Monroy and forward David Grande are the only foreigners among the 11 players JFC have retained from last term.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021