ISL 2018-19: 4 reasons why Kerala Blasters will be unstoppable this season
Two-time runners-up, Kerala Blasters have always begun an ISL season as pre-tournament favourites. Unfortunately, the results haven't been as expected for the Kochi based franchise who have agonizingly fallen short of the title twice in three seasons.
This season though, they will be missing the services of two of their stars - Iain Hume (who moved to FC Pune City) and most importantly their former iconic co-owner Sachin Tendulkar.
But that doesn't deter the fans whose love for the club comes above everything. With a new Indian football season beckoning, fans of the Yellow army are super excited and are expecting a lot from their team this season. Kerala Blasters indeed look stronger than ever this season to claim their first ISL crown.
Let us now find out why the Kerala Blasters look set to be unstoppable this season:
#4 A full-fledged season under their very own David James
David James was Kerala Blasters' player-manager at the inaugural ISL edition in 2014, where he guided them to a runners-up finish behind Atletico de Kolkata (now, ATK). The former Liverpool and Manchester City shot-stopper, who made 12 appearances for his side in the first season returned to Indian football in January 2018.
James replaced the Dutchman, Rene Meulensteen who managed the first seven games for Blasters in the 2017-18 ISL. Unfortunately, the former Fulham and Manchester United first team coach managed just one win out of those seven games with four games ending in a draw and losing two. This prompted the Blasters management to appoint their former player-manager David James at the helm for the remainder of the fourth season.
Replacing Meulensteen from January 3, 2018, James led Kerala to five wins, three draws and three defeats in the next eleven league games. Though Kerala failed to get past the league stages (finished sixth among ten teams with 25 points), the appointment of James as their manager gave the Blasters something to cheer about.
Having played against some of the players like Sandesh Jhingan and Iain Hume, James instilled belief and passion in his squad. With the less time he got (almost halfway into the last season), he did a good job in spite of missing out on the knockout berth.
A cool and charismatic figure, James took full control of the signings made by Blasters this season and has done quite a remarkable job. With plenty of good signings and a new season beckoning, James is all set to open up a new chapter for the Kerala Blasters.
Having been with the squad for nine months now (recruiting talents and guiding them in the pre-season friendlies), the former shot-stopper will be determined to make the Men in Yellow 2018-19 ISL champions.