KOCHI: Kerala Blasters coach David James gives the impression of a person who makes for great company. The Englishman has sense of humour, looks like a stand-up guy and has a broad smile to put strangers at ease. However, none of that is helping his cause as James faces the wrath of fans. Bad results have been piling up and James has become the lightning pole for every bad performance. Almost at the halfway point of the season, Blasters have not beaten any team other than ATK. Seventh in the table with eight points, they welcome Jamshedpur FC on Tuesday. The visitors are fourth with 15 points.
At this juncture, James has been labelled by a section of the fans as being ‘clueless’ with tactics. They are even threatening to boycott matches. “It’s difficult sometimes to go and watch ypur team when they are not doing what you want them to do,” James admits. However, it’s difficult to work out what his philosophy is. “When you start the season, you want everything to be right. But we are not in such a position now. There is a thin line between trying to look good and be effective. I think we need to be effective now,” the 48-year-old said. That would mean against Jamshedpur, Blasters would bank on long balls. Extreme caution could be the order of the day. “A 1-0 win with an Anas Edathodika header will be fine,” he quipped.
Blasters have the joint highest number of draws (seven) besides three defeats. They have picked up only five points from a possible 24. Forwards CK Vineeth and Matej Poplatnik have been firing blanks. Sandesh Jhinghan has been sloppy at the back. The midfield combination changes every other game. Fans are still wondering who is the firstchoice goalkeeper, Dheeraj Singh or Naveen Kumar. “It’s difficult as a head coach if I were to listen to fans on how I should pick my team. I got to trust my coaching staff, myself and the decision making.” Jamshedpur coach Cesar Ferrando rates the Kerala team highly.
“In all the matches that we have played in Jamshedpur, Kerala have been the strongest team. They didn’t deserve to draw their matches,” he said. The southern outfit was in winning positions against Mumbai City, Delhi Dynamos and NorthEast United. However, for a team known for its ability to defend, they have been vulnerable at the back. But James considers the 0-0 draw against Chennaiyin in their last match as a step in the right direction. “It was our second clean sheet of the season. If we beat Jamshedpur, then there is a chance of putting a run together. It is important that we don’t lose too much ground.”