The Indian Super League is back, for longer this time, and with crowds. Ahead of the 2022-23 ISL season, ESPN charts the progress and prospects of each team in the league. With seven new managers at the helm (some familiar), it's all a bit unpredictable. Nonetheless, we pick out 6 aspects - the coach, one player to watch out for in each team, the team's biggest strength, the one nagging worry that could hold them back this season, what to watch out for, and their most exciting new signing.
Plus there's way-too-early predictions that will only look hilariously wrong come the end of the campaign (Kerala Blasters from last season, anyone?). So er..., be kind. We are only human. Mostly.
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(Note: The teams appear in the order they finished the league stage last season.)
Coach: (NEW) Aidy Boothroyd, replacing title winning coach Owen Coyle. No pressure, eh?
Player: Peter Hartley. Dependable, on and off the pitch - a manager's dream.
Strength: A settled defence that ought to continue into this season.
Worry: How big an obstacle will Greg Stewart's departure be? Can new signings compensate?
W2W4: Boothroyd, once derided for his 'direct' football with Watford, reinvented himself with England youth groups - expect Indian youngsters to feature a fair bit.
Signing: Harry Sawyer scores wherever he goes, and a potential partnership with Daniel Chima Chukwu could see them bulldoze defences.
Prediction: Top half, should make the playoffs despite their personnel losses.
Coach: Manolo Marquez. ISL Champion. Arguably the best coach in the ISL.
Akash It's Bart Ogbeche. It's always Bart Ogbeche. Even a 38-yr-old Bart Ogbeche.
Strength: Continuity. And Marquez' ability to constantly bring through Indian youngsters.
Worry: Ashish Rai, Juanan and Aniket Jadhav are big misses - can their replacements live up to the task?
W2W4: Marquez bringing through another batch of Indian youngsters? Lalchungnunga Chhangte already impressed in the Durand Cup - keep an eye on him.
Signing: Borja Herrera, who showed glimpses of excellent linkup with Javi Siverio and Ogbeche in the Durand Cup.
Prediction: Should comfortably make the playoffs, although a title run might be a stretch too far.
Coach: Juan Ferrando. A first full season with the Kolkata giants after a shock move from FC Goa last year.
Player: Liston Colaco. Any bets on the number of times 'golazo' is used in commentary for ATKMB games this year?
Strength: It's ATK Mohun Bagan. There's star quality throughout the squad.
Worry: They looked blunt in the Durand Cup and AFC Cup, with an all Indian frontline, while admirable, struggling to find the net.
W2W4: Dimitri Petratos has scored 12 goals in 51 games for his last two clubs - can he fill the Roy Krishna/David Williams shaped hole up-front?
Signing: Florentin Pogba. Has looked shaky in defence at times but Paul's elder brother does have an eye for a pass.
Prediction: On paper, ATKMB should make the playoffs. A testament to the club's unpredictability is a title challenge and a disastrous non-playoff making campaign both seem plausible.
Coach: Ivan Vukomanovic. The beating heart of Kerala Blasters.
Player: Adrian Luna. More incredible volleys from range? Yay! The lunar puns that follow? Not-so-yay.
Strength: The Manjappada. Many an opposition player will wilt facing that sea of yellow.
Worry: Worry: Can Dimitrios Diamantakos and Apostolos Giannou replace Alvaro Vazquez and Jorge Pereyra Diaz?
W2W4: Vukomanovic's tactical flexibility - the 4-2-2-2 might evolve, especially with the new signings bringing new skillsets to the table.
Signing: Ivan Kalyuzhnyi. The Ukrainian midfielder brings creativity while also retaining the steel required of a Vukomanovic midfield.
Prediction: : Top half, should make the playoffs.
Coach: Des Buckingham. Led his team through a history-making AFC Champions League campaign.
Player: Greg Stewart? Ahmed Jahoud? Alberto Noguera? Mourtada Fall? Apuia? Jorge Pereyra Diaz? Lallianzuala Chhangte? You try picking one.
Strength: See above.
Worry: Buckingham's pursuit of attacking football has seen their defence look a bit porous at times.
W2W4: How can Mumbai fit all their riches in foreign personnel onto the pitch? Something has to give.
Signing: Greg Stewart. 20 G/A in 19 league games last year, 10G/A in 7 Durand Cup games this year. He's not going to stop.
Prediction: A title challenge, maybe even victory.
Coach: (NEW) Simon Grayson. Ended Bengaluru FC's trophy drought with a Durand Cup victory. Quite the start
Player: Sunil Chhetri. (And Roy Krishna too, but there's only one option till Mr. Bengaluru retires)
Strength: A quite solid defence, with a clear playing identity - impressive with a new coach.
Worry: A long season might prove tough for a frontline that are not er... spring chickens.
W2W4: Wins? Grayson has brought back BFC's penchant for winning but it's not exactly the most ideal watch. Oh and Sivasakthi Narayanan may have a breakout season.
Signing: Roy Krishna. Duh.
Prediction: Should be in the playoff mix with ease, though a title challenge is not as far-fetched as it sounds.
Coach: (NEWish) Josep Gombau. From Odisha to New York (with David Villa's Queensboro FC) and back, Gombau returns to 'finish what he started'.
Player: Diego Mauricio. Always impressed with Mumbai, but was rarely offered a consistent run of games, which ought to change in Odisha.
Strength: Scored 12, conceded twice (both in extra time) in 4 games of the Durand Cup. The balance is impressive.
Worry: Consistency. It's always plagued Odisha teams - who've had spurts of looking unbeatable and spurts of looking quite beatable in seasons past.
W2W4: The Indian talent coming through - it's an exciting mix of attacking flair that could trouble many a defence.
Signing: Pedro Martin. Brings genuine creativity and a goal-threat in midfield.
Prediction: Should fight for the playoffs, although they are dark-horses for something more.
Coach: (NEW) Thomas Brdaric. Not the most glittering CV, on paper atleast.
Player: Anirudh Thapa. Which speaks volumes in itself.
Strength: Trusting young Indian players paid off for HFC and JFC last year, so Chennaiyin's recruitment policy this summer makes sense.
Worry: The defence - despite new signings, CFC conceded 11 goals in 5 Durand Cup games.
W2W4: Sajal Bag's been generating buzz and rightly so - how he dovetails with Thapa and Julius Duker in midfield will be interesting to watch.
Signing: Peter Sliskovic. Found the net with consistency in the Durand Cup, so atleast one of CFC's problems from last year ought to be solved.
Prediction: : Given the strength of the teams involved, they might struggle to get into the playoffs.
Coach: (NEWish) Carlos Pena. After playing for the club three years ago, the Spaniard returns as a rookie-ish manager.
Player: Edu Bedia. Come rain or shine, Edu Bedia remains divine.
Strength: Goa still have a settled spine, and a consistency in playing philosophy only ought to bode well.
Worry: Pena remains an unknown quantity, as do a couple of their overseas signings.
W2W4: Given the club trusted their junior squad to defend their Durand Cup, will Pena trust a promising raft of Indian youngsters waiting for their chance?
Signing: Alvaro Vazquez. Now a known quantity, Vazquez will be a much sharper tip-of-the-spear than Jorge Ortiz or Airam Cabrera ever were.
Prediction: If Vazquez clicks, there's potential for an enthralling side. If not, we can expect a repeat of last season's ninth-placed finish.
Coach: (NEW) Marco Balbul. The Israeli should have a much more support from fellow countryman and technical director, Ohad Efrat, than Khalid Jamil did last season.
Player: Matt Derbyshire. A journeyman career across the world that looks more like a season of Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown (RIP). He does have scoring pedigree, though.
Strength: Er... a loyal crowd and packed stadium, I guess?
Worry: There's not a lot of quality within their Indian contingent, and the overseas players are bit of an unknown quantity in Indian football.
W2W4: Balbul has a penchant for producing organized sides, but having opted to send a reserve team to the Durand Cup, will they have enough time to gel together?
Signing: Romain Phillippoteaux. The French winger has been a Ligue 1 regular in the past, although 7 G/A in 27 games as a striker and winger in Ligue 2 last year... generates questions.
Prediction: Fighting to stay off the bottom once more.
Coach: (NEWish) Stephen Constantine. Once more upon Indian shores, albeit this time in club football.
Strength: Some very shrewd, if late, recruitment has seen East Bengal build a decent squad with plenty of ISL experience.
Worry: East Bengal are never far away from a crisis, and if results don't come for the 'workmanlike' football the club displayed under Constantine in the Durand Cup... things could get ugly.
W2W4: VP Suhair and Aniket Jadhav storming down the wings, Alex Lima creating moments of magic... or the trio being forced to hold themselves deep.
Signing: Cleiton Silva. The Brazilian knows how to score in the ISL and that's key for a Constantine side that's defence-first.
Prediction: Should be in the playoff mix, because Constantine knows how to grind out results.