ISL 2017: Kerala Blasters eyeing former England manager as Steve Coppell replacement
What’s the story?
According to various sources, the Kerala Blasters hierarchy is actively seeking a replacement for Steve Coppell, whose future at the club looks uncertain with each passing day. The Kochi-based outfit are monitoring a few big foreign names, the biggest of the lot being former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Although it isn’t yet known how far the Swede is from the Blasters hot seat, talks are believed to be progressing well in case Coppell is not offered improved terms. Coppell, the former Reading manager, has had a communication breakdown with his employers and his future at Kerala Blasters is unsettled at best.
The fourth season of the Indian Super League will kick off this November after the completion of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. This time round, the popular franchise league will have more teams and be run in a different way than previous seasons.
Coppell, who joined Kerala Blasters for ISL-3, led the Yellow-Blues to the final in his first season at the club but couldn’t lead them to glory.
The heart of the matter
It was almost certain that Coppell would be coming back to India for ISL 2017/18 a few days ago, but talks over a new deal for the 61-year-old have been minimal, with Coppell himself admitting to the fact that he hasn’t had any communication with Kerala Blasters for a few days regarding his retention and the signing of players.
The journeyman Eriksson was sacked by Chinese League One outfit Shenzhen FC last month after a nine-game winless run. He has coached extensively across Europe with the England job being the highlight of his career so far. Eriksson’s stints with Ivory Coast’s national team and three Chinese clubs suggest that he is not afraid of a challenge. Kerala Blasters are one of the more stable ISL clubs, having finished runners-up twice, hence Eriksson will have a competent unit to fight for the title.
The deadline for the appointment of managers by ISL clubs is believed to be 15th June, hence Kerala Blasters will look to leave no stone unturned to get a high profile name should Coppell be not re-signed. Eriksson fits the bill as a big name but the 69-year-old has had more lows than highs in the recent past.
It is not yet known what direction Kerala Blasters are headed from here. The retooling of the ISL with the re-introduction of the player draft could make for an unpredictable campaign in 2017/18, and getting key decisions right at this stage could be the difference between success and failure for the franchises. It remains to be seen how Kerala Blasters navigate this period of transition.