ISL 2017: Ex-Liverpool star David James takes over from Rene Meulensteen as Kerala Blasters head coach
What's the Story
In the aftermath of the sacking of Rene Meulensteen from his post as head coach of Kerala Blasters, the club have confirmed ex-boss David James as the next man to take charge of the ISL outfit which has spiralled into a crisis of form.
In case you didn't know
James, a veteran goalkeeper who famously plied his trade at clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City and Portsmouth among others, was also involved with the Sachin Tendulkar owned-team as coach cum player in the first season of the ISL. Under his watch, the club had finished as runners-up, losing the closely contested final to Atletico de Kolkata by a single goal.
The heart of the matter
Ex-Manchester United assistant coach Meulensteen stepped down after yet another loss, this time to debutants Bengaluru FC, which saw the Blasters continue to languish at the wrong end of the table. James will have to spark an immediate reaction amongst his players if they are to harbour any hope of making the play-offs. No stranger to the league, James will hope that his familiarity with the tournament and with the Kochi-based outfit will hold him in good stead in the days to come.
In James' first game back in-charge, the Blasters will host high-fliers FC Pune City at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Thursday. Pune are second in the table and will prove a potent attacking force to defend against. James will hope to incite the much-needed football revolution at the club beginning with this match itself.
The former England goalkeeper will reunite with Iain Hume who was a standout player for the team in the 2014 season and also with current captain Sandesh Jhingan, who won the “Emerging Player of the League" award in the same year. James will also find himself a squad studded with old rivals from his English Premier League days like ex-Red Devil duo of Dimitar Berbatov and Wes Brown. Other key members of the team like Jackichand Singh, Courage Pekuson and youngster Mark Sifneos will also seek to perform well and carry the team forward in James’ second stint in Kochi.