Unfortunately, it’s that time again when I remind you that the ISL season has finished and we won’t see football like it until late this year. However, I am here to save you all from going mental with a new series over the coming weeks. Jake is apparently working on a new analysis series with Chris, however, this is code for his transfer to Bangladesh. Anyway, back onto something that matters and with the conclusion of the Final, the ISL decided to announce the end of season award winners. It was done in true ISL fashion, an absolute laugh, with some of the awards making no sense whatsoever. Calderon won Fittest Player Of The Season, why that’s an award, I don’t know. Golden Ball, for the most assists, was re-named to winning pass of the season and the trophy for the Golden Boot was the ugliest trophy I have seen, I am sure Coro has stuck that in the loft.
However, they also did some decent ones with Player Of The Season being the main one. Somehow, they managed to call it by the traditional name and gave it to the right person, with Sunil Chhetri getting the top award. Even though I agree with them, and I’ll explain why later on in this piece, I feel they should have some sort of voting phase, so we could see the contenders. It just adds a bit of excitement to the fans and gets everyone talking about the season, rather than just being told that Chhetri won the award.
Over the course of the season, there have been some fantastic players, playing consistently well and making the season entertaining. From here on, I will be giving some players an honourable mention as they were all in the running for this award.
Looking over in Goa and specifically their front line. It is quite hard to argue that Coro has been the most prolific striker the ISL has ever seen. He ended the season with eighteen goals and it was surprising to not see him and his other teammates make the final. Talking about his teammates and another player who deserves a mention is Lanzarote, the guy has been on fire this season and not just in front of goal. He finished the season with thirteen goals and six assists, he was the perfect partner for Coro and a perfect playmaker for Goa.
Looking over in the direction of the champions now and Chennaiyin have a brilliant winger, who has gone under the radar because of the likes of Coro and Chhetri. This man is Gregory Nelson, he was the man who won them the title, he commanded both games against Goa in the semi-finals and then performed fantastically against Bengaluru in the final, where he got two assists to the three goals. He ended the season with five assists and surprisingly, only managed one goal.
Jake has become quite sensitive recently and has expressed that he is fed up with my digs at him, absolute wuss. Anyway, to keep him happy, there’s a player he really likes and that’s defender, Calderon. Not only does he get to call himself the fittest player in the ISL season, he also gets recognition from Jake, that alone would be enough to send me over the edge. Sorry, Jake, it’s a joke mate.
Now taking a quick glance elsewhere, specifically Bengaluru and there’s a couple of players to mention. One of them is Spanish striker Miku, who was a fantastic partner to Chhetri. He ended up with fifteen goals over the season and was a real servant to the club. Another player, who I like a lot, is Udanta. He has gone under the radar this season because of Chhetri and Miku but has been key to their success. He has been consistent over the season and it leads him to topping the assists chart with seven and he also chipped in with a goal at some point.
I am sure there are many more names that I could have mentioned here and I apologise for missing them, but you wouldn’t read this article to expect a whole novel on other players when you came to read about our Player Of The Season, Sunil Chhetri.
To start off I will give Chhetri’s most impressive stats from last season, hopefully, this will give you an insight into why we have chosen him as the player of the season. I must say beforehand, he isn’t the most stat hungry of players, it is his effort on the pitch that makes him so special and, unfortunately, effort isn’t tracked.
Anyway, he ended up scoring fourteen goals in twenty-one games for Bengaluru, he started every game for Bengaluru and played brilliantly in each and every one. He managed to set up his teammates twice over the season, however, it seemed he was the one to put Udanta through, for him to get the assist. He had the 2nd most shots in the ISL over the season, shooting seventy times. Forty-six of these seventy shots were on target and this stat had him the most accurate shooter in the ISL. He went on to win multiple Hero of the Match awards on his way to winning the ISL Player of the Season award.
One reason for Chhetri winning the award is his standout performances during the season. When I was first thinking of players who could win this award, I was always attracted to some of the performances Chhetri has put in over the months. He is a legend of Indian football and any team that has him in their squad is a very lucky team as they instantly become title contenders, similar to LeBron James in the NBA.
The one performance that kept popping up in my mind was the five-star performance in the second leg against Pune. He managed to score a hat-trick and stepped up for Bengaluru, just like Messi did with Argentina to qualify for the World Cup, and singlehandedly took Bengaluru to the final. He had so much self-belief and confidence in that game, he chipped the keeper with his penalty and his other two goals were class finishes. That performance will always be the best ever in the ISL and will always be talked about when someone mentions Chhetri’s name.
Throughout the season, Chhetri has put in some brilliant performances. Another that comes to mind is the 3-1 win over Mumbai in January where he scored two brilliant goals and led his team to victory. His performance against Chennaiyin back in February in another 3-1 win was exceptional, he managed to score one and assist one in a performance that took fans from all clubs by surprise.
Finally, the performance in the final against Chennaiyin was just unbelievable, he scored a fantastic diving header to put his team 1-0 up and after that, every Bengaluru attack came from his brilliant effort. It was fitting that he would miss from eight yards out and when he fell to the ground at the end of the match in tears, it really hurt to watch as he gave his all and it just wasn’t enough.
Chhetri was a fairly easy choice for this award, he is a legend of the game for India and deserves everything positive that comes his way. It would have been a crime not to give him this award. Hopefully, he stays on in the ISL next season as the league wouldn’t be the same without his presence and effort.
Next time out we have Team of the Season and this will be a hard one to choose, especially up top where there has been a group of brilliant players, most of whom I mentioned for this award.