So, the English Premier League started this weekend and I got to see the “new-fangled” version of the team I’ve been supporting since 1998. That’s right; I speak of Unainal Football Club. Wenger has been such an integral part of Arsenal that, for all intents and purposes, you can say the club was named after him (yeah, I know that Arsenal is one of the oldest clubs in the world. The team was out of sorts, of course, and I do worry we’re all going to regret Wenger’s exit before the season ends. The first match didn’t hearten me at all. But, this isn’t an Arsenal Blog (there are enough of those out there). This is an Indian Super League Blog, so let’s get into the meat of things.
Some very significant things happened or were rumoured to happen in the Indian Super League last week. Involved were no less than half the ISL franchises and even one I-League club. Here’s a quick review.
Tim Cahill to Jamshedpur FC?
I’m not going to even bother diving into the statistics on this one. It is only a rumour at this point in time. If it does go through, then maybe I’ll do a statistics review of Tim Cahill (not that most of you don’t know what he can offer) along with maybe a geriatric report of which of his bones is the most brittle or which of his joints have a hint of arthritis in them.
In footballing terms, Cahill is bloody old. Why any club is going to bother signing a 38-year-old attacking midfielder/strike is beyond me. It will be a nonsense signing and Cahill will miss the majority of the season. You know it! Don’t even think I’m being harsh on Cahill. Regardless of how fit he is, no 38-year old deserves to play football unless he’s a legendary keeper like Gianluigi Buffon.
Jhonny Acosta to East Bengal
This one is catching all the uninformed banter online simply because he has played a couple of World Cups including the last one. He’s a 35-year-old centre back, folks. Stop adding false fuel to a false fire. He’s not going to light up anything. He’s not going to add prestige to a dying league either. His decision to join East Bengal is not proof of East Bengal’s and the I-League’s global reputation.
He’s only a bygone who has finally decided to cash in on a dying career. He’s coming to East Bengal for a big payday. If another club had decided to pay big money for him, he would’ve gone there. Nothing to see here. Move along, now.
(Yes, no statistical analysis again. It would be a waste)
Andrea Orlandi to Chennaiyin FC
Believe it or not, I know Andrea Orlandi (not personally, you cracker, just as a player). Don’t ask how I know of him. It’s a combination of things. I know of him because I signed him every time I played with a League 2 team in Football Manager. I know of him because I liked and followed Swansea City when they were promoted to the English Premier League. Both those connections made me research him.
Orlandi is primarily a winger who can operate as an attacking midfielder. He’s a dribbler and that is his greatest quality. His dribbling skills can disrupt the opposition’s defence and create openings for him and his teammates. Statistically, he isn’t that great though.
He’s one of those players who seem very effective on the pitch in various small ways but never show up in stats. He has neither scored loads of goals nor dished out multiple assists. What he does regularly, though, is make that key pass that sets up an assist or breakaway.
In fact, he has only about 20 goals and 31 assists in 269 games, that’s one positive contribution every fifth game. I can’t give you key pass statistics as there is no way for me to find it. I’m sure John Gregory has it. That man is very careful about who he signs and I like it!
Miguel Angel Portugal to Manage FC Pune City
I distinctly remember reading somewhere that Portugal criticised the Delhi Dynamos FC setup after leaving them. He had commented on the small budget as well as poor planning. I remember thinking that this is a case of sour grapes but also that he was right. I also remember thinking that’s highly unprofessional of such a senior manager.
It seems that Portugal will now get a second shot at the red, red cherry with FC Pune City. I’m very curious about how the strange marriage between the FC Pune Management and Portugal is gonna play out. I’m curious in the same way that you would be curious if you knew that two women you know were going to slug it out over some insignificant issue. It’s a type of guilty curiosity. You know its petty and uncultured of you but you’re curious anyway.
Portugal, incidentally, managed 18 games for the Dynamos and lost half of them. He went on to Granada CF in the second tier of Spain where he managed 5 games and lost 3. Not very heartening, is it Pune fans? His entire career has been like this. He has managed 165 games and won only 52 of them. That’s just over 30 percent. He has lost a grand total of 66 games which amounts to 40 percent of his games.
Take that forward and you can predict that FC Pune City will win about 5, lose 7, and draw about 6 out of 18 games this season. Amounts to 21 points. That will not be good enough for a playoffs berth. Let’s hope Portugal can buck historical trends.
Marcos Tebar Returns to Delhi Dynamos FC from FC Pune City
Portugal will not have one of Pune’s best performers from the last season – Marcos Tebar. The management decided to not renew his contract which allowed him to return to Delhi Dynamos FC. Tebar has been fairly consistent since moving to India.
He had 3 assists in his first season with Delhi and managed a goal and two assists for Pune in his second. That’s excellent offensive return for a defensive midfielder. Generally, they don’t really contribute, by the way.
Defensively, he’s been sound too. In 2017, he clocked just short of 6.5 defensive contributions per game, while in the previous year, he had 5 per game. Those are great defensive numbers again. I have no doubts that Tebar will have another exceptional season this time out. Keep an eye out for him guys.
Carlos Pena Joins FC Goa
For the life of me, I can’t place this one. The name Carlos Pena definitely rings a bell but even after I’ve looked at his career history, I can’t figure out why. Pena is a left back and another Spaniard that Sergio Lobera has roped in. It also seems to me that Lobera has pinpointed his team’s defence as something that needs attention.
Heck, I could’ve told him that. I have a solution to the problem too. Throw out Kattimani or make him smoke hash or something before the game so that he doesn’t panic as much as he does. If you want a legal solution, might I suggest a psychiatrist or a Buddhist monk and mandatory meditations?
Pena will be replacing Narayan Das, which is good because he’ll be more defensively inclined. Pena will also add versatility because he can play centre back too. He’s kinda short to play in central defence but that, I’m guessing, will only be an emergency option.
That’s all I know about Pena. Maybe one of you can tell me more? What say, can someone contribute?