With the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 season coming to a close, here's our pick for team of the season. The team has been picked with the intention of having a reasonable ability to actually play well together on the pitch... if the wildly hypothetical scenario ever did arise. Give or take a tweak (or two), we are reasonably confident that the team makes rational sense playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation (incidentally, the formation the champions Mumbai City FC preferred all season). And yes, as per ISL rules, there are only five foreigners in the team.
Amrinder is tied with Arindam Bhattacharya for most clean sheets (10) this season, but it's easy to forget how much more exposed the Mumbai 'keeper has been. Amrinder made 61 saves in 23 games during the 2020-21 season, only three fewer than Odisha FC's Arshdeep Singh - the league's busiest goalkeeper by a distance. With Mumbai's frantic, at times chaotic, forays often leaving them outnumbered at the back, Amrinder has been a calm and consistent presence between the sticks. - Saket Parekar
It wasn't the most convincing performance in the final from Kotal, but he was instrumental to the league's most miserly defence through the season proper. While there are more adventurous full-backs in the league making better attacking contributions, Kotal's conservative approach is a better fit for Habas' setup, which often requires full-backs to defend narrow, and pack the central defence. - Saket Parekar
Centre back: Mourtada Fall (Mumbai City FC)
Not the most skilled with his passing and distribution, but Fall's sheer size and presence was key to bringing stability to Sergio Lobera's team. For a manager who has in the past struggled with the basic defensive shapes of his teams, Fall's no-nonsense defending was crucial in thwarting obvious dangers. But perhaps even more crucial was the goal threat his aerial ability offered in the opposition box. - Saket Parekar
Comfortable with the ball at his feet and strong in the tackle, Gonzalez is an excellent reader of the game who was superb for a much changed FC Goa in his debut ISL season. Juan Ferrando's leader at the back, Gonzalez combined his defensive adeptness with an underrated attacking threat -- his trademark marauding runs from centre back were hard to predict and harder to stop. - Anirudh Menon
Where Kotal is a solid, defensive presence on the right flank, Mishra is the counter-balance. Dynamic, with endless stamina, a great dribble and a knack of making the right runs, Mishra was superb for a Hyderabad defence that exceeded expectations and then some. A clean tackler, Mishra never let his constant offensive threat dilute his defensive presence. One for the future. - Anirudh Menon
Central midfielder: Ahmed Jahouh (Mumbai City FC)
Ask and you shall receive. Where would Mumbai be without the pinpoint accuracy of Jahouh's crosses? Be it from open play or set pieces, behind nearly every Mumbai goal there was a key Jahouh pass throughout this season. The easiest pick of our XI. - Saket Parekar
A non-stop, box-to-box, forward passing midfielder, Apuia was both Khalid Jamil's and Gerard Nus' on-field general. He was the guy who started most of NorthEast United's deadly counterattacks and, in tracking back, never shirked from a tough tackle. In scoring one of the goals of the season, he also showed he had quite the flair for the spectacular. Another one for the future. - Anirudh Menon
Right winger: Manvir Singh (ATK Mohun Bagan)
Arguably the most improved player of this season. Utilised as a right winger, a right midfielder and a right wing-back by Antonio Habas, Manvir was sensational throughout the season. His raw pace and blunt directness hurt teams, especially late on, while his off-the-charts work ethic meant Bagan's right flank was rarely exposed. He now even has a trademark finish -- cutting in from the right and sweeping it into the far corner with his left. Should be an absolute shoo-in for the national team. - Anirudh Menon
Central attacking midfielder: Jorge Ortiz (FC Goa)
Possibly the only player here who's being played out of position, but over the season, Ortiz showed he had the flexibility to play across the front -- left, right, false 9, behind the striker, you put him on the pitch and he immediately makes your team more threatening. A brilliant dribbler, Ortiz combines a keen attacking intelligence with a willingness to run all day that makes him especially dangerous. - Anirudh Menon
Left winger: Bipin Singh (Mumbai City FC]
Scoring the winner in the final might have been the highlight of his season, but Bipin Singh has been one of Mumbai's most consistent performers throughout the season. While bigger names around him, specifically Boumous and Jahouh, grab the headlines, Bipin has been a tireless and unselfish runner on the flanks, with hardly a bad game during this campaign. It doesn't hurt that he was the lone scorer of a hattrick this season. - Saket Parekar
Centre forward: Roy Krishna (ATK Mohun Bagan)
You and I might be tired of hearing '1-0 to ATKMB', but Krishna remains obsessed with being the man behind that '1'. No matter what goes on behind him, the Fijian continues to be a man of singular focus -- scoring goals and topping the charts. - Saket Parekar
(one goalkeeper, one centre back, one full-back, one central midfielder, and three attacking options) -- Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC), Chinglensana Singh (Hyderabad), Subashish Bose (ATK Mohun Bagan), Carl McHugh (ATK Mohun Bagan), Bright Enobakhare (SC East Bengal), Lallianzuala Chhangte (Chennaiyin FC), Igor Angulo (FC Goa).
Manager: Sergio Lobera (Mumbai City FC)
For the majority of the season, his team played their opponents off the park. At the business end, when it mattered most, he showed remarkable pragmatism to change his game plan up and get the job done. Sacked ignominiously last season by FC Goa, three games before they won the League Shield, he returned with a point to prove, and proved it emphatically. The team of the season has to be led by the manager of the season -- 2020-21 ISL Cup and League Shield winner Sergio Lobera.