The 2019-20 season of the Indian Super League witnessed the debut of Hyderabad FC.
While they were the first Hyderabad-based club in the league's history, the team had been born out of adversity and controversy surrounding the Pune City FC franchise. Initially, it seemed as though the owners of the Pune franchise had opted for a new beginning and moved their base to Hyderabad.
However, the reincarnation of the club seemed to be something of a disaster as Hyderabad FC managed just two wins and finished at the bottom of the table.
In addition to this, there was confusion at Hyderabad FC when Phil Brown was sacked halfway through the season and the club tried to plug the gaps as the season went forward.
This time around, the Hyderabad FC management have opted to do things a bit differently. The debacle of the previous season has left the owners little choice but to go in for a ground-up rebuild. The appointment of Manuel Roca as head coach has signaled Hyderabad FC's intent from the outset.
The Spaniard has an outstanding record in the Spanish leagues over the years and it would seem that he is the right man to take over.
The rebuilding process
The ground-up rebuild at Hyderabad FC has seen several players from the previous season released by the club.
Brazilian striker Marcelinho, who also captained the club last season was among those to depart, signing for Odisha FC. His accomplices in the attack, Bobo and Giles Brown, also agreed to terminate their contracts with the former returning to Brazil.
However, despite the loss of players, the club have been of the busiest teams in the transfer market.
In a bid to shore up the defense, Subrata Pal, one of the best goalkeepers in India was the first to arrive from Jamshedpur FC. Haicharana Nazary and Akash Mishra soon arrived from Kerala Blasters and I-League side Indian Arrows respectively.
It wasn't long before Marquez began looking at adding overseas quality to his side. The signing of Brazilian Joao Victor and Australian Joel Chainese will add a much needed flair to Hyderabad FC's attacking unit.
The signing of Spaniard Aridane Santana has been perhaps the most talked about so far. The 33-year-old managed 9 goals in just 14 appearances for Odisha FC last season, a terrific record in the context of the Indian Super League.
The signings of Fran Sandaza and Odei Onaindia have rounded up a strong squad on paper for Hyderabad FC. It would seem improbable for a side with such quality to not to be a contender for a playoffs spot this season.
Shoring up the defensive unit
The previous season witnessed the Hyderabad-based club let in 39 goals while managing to find the back of the net on just 21 occasions. This was the worst goalscoring record for any ISL side in the entire season, and unsurprisingly, the likes of Matthew Kilgallon and Gurtej Singh were promptly released by the club.
Odei Onaindia, the 30-year-old center back has a fair wind behind him in terms of records in Spanish football. His signing has been a shot in the arm for the club and he will definitely shore up the defensive unit. Onaindia will be paired up with Adil Khan and Sahil Panwar in defence with Chinglesana Singh acting as a backup.
The signing of Subrata Pal, who is among the top five goalkeepers in the country, is a major boost as Hyderabad FC look to better their performance from the previous season.
Aiming for consistency
Despite a fairly decent squad on paper last season, Hyderabad FC managed just two wins in the ISL. This was a clear case of a lack of consistency in performances.
Of course, the 5-0 loss to ATK straight off the bat dampened the confidence of certain players. However, the inability to stem the leakage of goals was a major factor in the team's bottom-of-the-table finish.
Manuel Roca, over the years, has built up a reputation of churning out consistent performances and instilling a 'winning way' in the teams that he has managed. With the signings the club has made along with the prowess of Roca, it would seem as though the club could have a much better season this time around.Published 14 Oct 2020, 20:07 IST