ISL 2018-19: 'I was amazed that it wasn't given as offside' - David James frustrated after defeat to Bengaluru FC
Kerala Blasters suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of rivals Bengaluru FC at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Monday in a result that put an end to their unbeaten start to the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season. The monumental clash between the two sides panned out to be an eventful and highly-contested affair as both teams were consistently aiming to trade blows to each other throughout the night.
James, who took over from Rene Meulensteen following the defeat in the corresponding fixture on New Year's Eve last season, admitted that his side put in a massive shift against one of the best teams in the division, but also stressed on the fact that it is frustrating when you have to walk away with nothing in the end, despite the performance.
“When you go back to the game, it was a very good game", James said in a press conference after the defeat to Bengaluru FC.
"It was two teams desperately trying to beat each other in the way a football match should be and again, Bengaluru are a very good side.
“I thought we played very well against them for the majority of the game and then for one reason or the other we picked up a couple of quick injuries and the game was sort of drifting away from us then.
“I sit here as the defeated head coach, which is in normal circumstances you have to accept, but it is very frustrating when you have to congratulate the opposition in a position where they did not deserve to be in the lead in the first place", he admitted.
Amazed flag didn't go up - James on Sunil Chhetri's offside goal
The standard and quality of decision-making from the referees have come under the scanner for all the wrong reasons until now and the southern derby played host to yet another controversial incident as early as the 17th minute.
Sunil Chhetri seemed to have been a yard offside when he pounced on the end of a through ball to open the scoring for the visitors, but the flag stayed down after the linesman made a baffling error that allowed the goal to stand.
James, who has now been on the receiving end of a number of questionable and harsh decisions already this season, claimed that he was amazed by the fact that it was not given as offside. The former England custodian also admitted that it is becoming increasingly difficult for his team, who have now had to deal with scandalous refereeing in four out of the six games they have played so far.
“I cannot start blaming individuals for what seems to be a collective problem”, James told reporters in the press conference after the game.
“For the last 48 hours, I have spent a lot of time thinking about stuff. Obviously, on the back of the Pune game, there was lots to think about with regards to some of the decisions that have not gone our way.
“I was amazed that it wasn’t given as offside. I think the only people who weren’t surprised, well I don’t know who was not surprised because it just seemed like the whole stadium was surprised [that the flag stayed down].
“These things happen. It is becoming increasingly difficult for myself and it is not just a problem for Kerala Blasters, although I think four matches out of our six have had decisions that have not gone our way", he added.
VAR could be the answer to tackle the problem, insists James
James went on to claim that it is difficult for him and the team when decisions like these go against them, especially while playing a side with the quality of Bengaluru and stressed on the fact that it is a collective problem that should be addressed for the overall development of the league.
The Kerala Blasters head coach also admitted that the introduction of VAR could be the answer to tackle a very frustrating problem that is currently putting teams in a disadvantage as we speak.
“It becomes very difficult when you are preparing against a side such as Bengaluru, who have got a such a good pedigree in this competition and in Indian football already, a team that you know you have to work particularly hard at to beat", James explained.
“And you start off with a goal being given to them, you are kind of hamstrung a little bit. I can’t even apologize to the players because at the end of the day it’s nothing down to us.
“But, yeah, it is becoming increasingly difficult this season and like I said, it is not an individual fault and I’m not trying to say that anyone should be better at what they do.
“If I was allowed to suggest something, then I would say maybe something like VAR might be an answer to the problem to take the decision-making into another hand."
I'm confident that we can reach play-offs: James
James, who played an integral role during the Kerala Blasters' run to the final in the inaugural edition of the tournament, claimed that he is not at all concerned by the performances from his team and admitted that he is confident they can reach the play-offs despite registering just the solitary win from six games so far this season.
“I don’t think I have sat here after any match and said that we played badly. At spells, yes, we could have done better but that’s football, that’s life", James reiterated.
“It’s been a third of the league season gone now and that means we do have to pick up points if we want to get into the qualification positions in the next 12 games and I’m confident that we can do that.
“It’s just about giving the confidence to the players so that they work towards the getting the right results from the right performances.
“But as I said, it is tough, for the second match in a row at least, to be sat here and focusing more on stuff which was completely out of our hands,” he concluded.