At 35, the Spaniard is the youngest ever to manage an ISL club but a relatively inexperienced head coach…
NorthEast United head coach Gerard Nus has achieved a lot in his illustrious career but has effectively served as manager for only two terms in his 13-year managerial career so far.
He started coaching in his early teens, completed his UEFA Pro Licence at the age 22, and went on to join Liverpool FC’s football academy in 2007 before being part of the backroom staff under then Reds’ gaffer Rafael Benitez as a conditioning coach.
Sandwiched between his role as the head of academy coaching at Brighton & Hove Albion in the English Championship where he had the privilege of working closely with then first-team coach Gustavo Poyet, Nus served as an assistant at Chunnam Dragons in the K-League and A-League side Melbourne Heart.
The former Liverpool U-21 coach also famously worked under Avram Grant as an assistant and a video analyst as Ghana reached the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 and the semi-final stage of the same competition in 2017.
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However, as head coach, there is not much of a reference other than leading Rayo Oklahoma City in 2016 and Irtysh Pavlodar of the Kazakhstan Premier League in 2017. At Rayo OKC, Nus managed to go on a 10-game unbeaten run with a five-match winning streak to reach the semi-finals of the North America Soccer League (NASL) Championship. But his spell at Irtysh was a rather short one to take any note of.
Nus has also worked with Elche CF and last held a post of Methodology Technical Director of AFC Eskilstuna in Allsvenskan – the Swedish top division – before packing his bags for India.
While NorthEast United may have landed a candidate who can provide expertise in the development of the plentiful youth talent available at the club, Nus has a task at his hand to mastermind a run to the play-offs especially since the team is coming off a very disappointing season where they finished second from bottom.
Nus succeeds Robert Jarni at a club that has had a different head coach at the helm for each of the past six seasons. And apart from Eelco Schattorie, no coach has managed to take the Highlanders to the play-offs.
Cesar Farias and Nelo Vingada are otherwise the only two managers at the club who got close to the play-offs with a fifth-place finish in 2015 and 2016 respectively. NorthEast is not amongst the top spenders in the league but they do have good talent at their disposal.
Nus believes in his capabilities and in his squad, as he told Goal in an interview before the start of the pre-season. “I am happy with the roster that we have and the new players that we are bringing. We have a solid mix of experienced and young players. We want to build something special.
“I am aware of the talent that this region has. I am a big believer in providing opportunities to the players that work hard and I do not think it is difficult to get young players into the first team; it all comes down to finding the right time and giving them the confidence that they deserve.”
NorthEast United have made interesting moves in the transfer market for Indian players including Ashutosh Mehta, Ponif Vaz, Gurjinder Kumar, Lalkhawpuimawia, Rochharzela, PM Britto, Sanjiban Ghosh, VP Suhair and Mashoor Shereef. In the foreign players’ department, the club has only retained Federico Gallego and gone in for six new recruits.
It all boils down to whether Nus manages to extract the very best from this squad. The youngest manager in the league has his task cut out.