Loss of momentum hurt NorthEast
Where they finished
How the season panned out
With three wins out of four and three clean sheets, NorthEast United were flying in the early stages of the campaign. Subrata Paul was solid in goal, Gustavo Lazzaretti was a force to be reckoned with in the centre of defence and Emiliano Alfaro was getting goals up front.
But then coach Nelo Vingada shuffled the formation a bit, removed Katsumi Yusa from the wings, changed the backline often and found himself on a run of six-game winless streak, including three successive loses at home. That was where the momentum shifted and -- with teams such as Kerala Blasters and Atletico de Kolkata notching up positive results -- NorthEast succumbed to increasing pressure.
At times, Vingada's side lost important points when all they had to do was keep focus for the full 90 minutes. Iain Hume's equaliser against them in the 90th minute on November 17 and 10 men-Goa beating them with the last kick of the game on November 11 were examples of how NorthEast imploded in a season that began with a lot of promise.
Emiliano Alfaro not only got the goals, but also drove the rest of the team with his work rate and energy. He was responsible for seven of NorthEast United's 18 points but, just like the team, faded away after a bright start. Alfaro often found himself isolated up front and wanting for an aide in attack, but with five goals -- the second-best goal tally so far -- the Uruguayan stood out for NorthEast United.
Most disappointing player
With a good line-up of foreigners in the team, it was the Indian players who failed to provide the thrust that NorthEast needed to make the best of a good start. Holicharan Narzary's glimpses of brilliance were not enough -- he ended with only one assist. Inconsistency saw him making just four starts with four substitute appearances.
Most memorable match
It has to be the 3-3 result against Chennaiyin FC when Shouvik Ghosh scored the 96th minute equaliser for NorthEast in a game of fluctuating fortunes. There was plenty at stake in the match with both teams looking to get ahead in the race for the top four. Chennai took the lead three times, with Dudu Omagbemi hitting a hat-trick, but NorthEast kept pegging and hit back each time to make for a memorable match. And when do you see a team not winning after one of their strikers score a hat-trick?
6/10 This was the closest NorthEast United have come to a playoff spot -- they were one win away from making the semi-finals. With a little more focus and commitment, the team could have written a better ending to an ISL that had begun encouragingly for them.