ISL 2017/18: Kerala Blasters extend head coach David James' contract till 2021
Kerala Blasters have retained the services of former Liverpool and Manchester City goalkeeper David James as their manager till the 2021 season, the club confirmed on Sunday.
James, who had been the player-manager at the club in the inaugural ISL season in 2014, has now extended his stay at the club till 2021. In the inaugural season, the Blasters had made it all the way to the finals, where they lost out to Atletico de Kolkata (ATK).
The Blasters had started the season as one of the favourites, having signed some of the top stars like Dimitar Berbatov, Wes Brown, Iain Hume, along with existing Indian players like CK Vineeth, and Sandesh Jhingan. they had also roped in Sir Alex Ferguson's former assistant Rene Meulensteen.
However, poor results led to the sacking of Meulensteen, before James was appointed as his replacement. The results have improved since then, as Kerala made a late push to fight for a top-four spot, but they eventually failed to make the cut, finishing sixth on the table.
Despite this, the Blasters management has decided to retain James for another three years.
Incidentally, James came under some criticism earlier on Sunday, when Blasters' marquee player Dimitar Berbatov criticised James' on-field tactics, calling it "Chip the ball to the strikers, chest, and we take it from there" football. He had even seemingly called James the "worst wannabe coach ever".
Despite these controversies, the Kerala Blasters management decided to stick with their man and awarded James with a three-year extension.
Although their ISL campaign is over, there is still some football left for the Blasters. The AIFF had recently announced the Super Cup, which would take place after the completion of the ISL.
Having finished sixth on the table, Kerala Blasters have qualified for the main draw of the tournament. While James was not able to guide them to the top four in the ISL, it would be interesting to see whether he can turn the Blasters' fortunes around in the Super Cup.