ISL 2017: Kerala Blasters name Rene Meulensteen as head coach
What's the story?
Kerala Blasters have confirmed the appointment of Rene Meulensteen as their next head coach, replacing Steve Coppell in the Kochi-based outfit's hot seat.
Coppell, who had a successful stint last year at Kerala Blasters, was relieved of his duties earlier this week and Meulensteen's appointment comes as a big surprise.
The deadline for the appointment of head coaches for ISL clubs is tomorrow, and with this appointment, all but Tata Steel's new club have confirmed their men at the helm for ISL 4.
The heart of the matter
It was widely expected that Coppell would be replaced by former Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce after ex-Blasters striker Michael Chopra had revealed talks were going on between the two parties.
More recently, it emerged that the former Atletico de Kolkata head coach Jose Molina was primed for the Kerala head coach's job only for that to be offered to Meulensteen.
Meulensteen comes to India with a big reputation. The former Fulham manager worked with Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and also had a stint in Russia with Anzhi Makhachkala.
The 2017/18 season of the ISL will feature 10 teams for the first time. Kerala Blasters have been runners-up twice in the popular franchise league's three seasons and the appointment of Meulensteen is a big step in the club's quest to win their first title.
Meulensteen's experience in Asian football during his time in Qatar will stand him in good stead for the Kerala Blasters job, considered to be one of the most demanding in the ISL due to the club's vociferous support.
The Dutchman Meulensteen will be expected to deliver from the word go, but replicating Coppell's achievement will be a difficult task for the 53-year-old. Coppell is the most successful Blasters manager ever, hence Meulensteen faces a big challenge to better the former Reading manager's record with his new club.