ISL 2018/19: Manjappada boycott, Cyberbullying and more - 5 things Kerala Blasters got wrong this season
The Kochi-based franchise marked the beginning of the season with an impressive away win against ATK, but soon embarked on a forgetful run that unceremoniously derailed their hopes of making it to the playoffs even before the mid-season break.
David James’ men produced their worst ever run in the history of the competition after the win over ATK in September, as they went on a 14-game winless run, before securing a win against Chennaiyin FC in February.
The Englishman was sacked a few days after the Blasters’ biggest defeat in the competition, that came against Mumbai City FC just ahead of the winter break, and were down and out in terms of pushing for a playoff spot by then.
Nelo Vingada, who was appointed as the successor to James on an interim basis, was tasked with the job of sticking plasters towards the fag end of the season with the Blasters finishing second-bottom in the end.
In addition to their disappointing ISL campaign, the Blasters were handed another demoralising setback in the Hero Super Cup, when they were dumped in the qualifiers by the Indian Arrows to cap off a forgetful season in dreadful fashion.
There are several factors that played a telling role in the Kerala Blasters’ downfall during the fifth edition of the ISL and in this segment, we will take a closer look at them. Without further delay, let’s analyze five things that went wrong for the 'Men In Yellow' during their 2018/19 campaign:
#1 Manjappada boycott and the alarming attendance drop in Kochi
In the wake of the Kerala Blasters’ dismal performances on the pitch under David James, a section of the official fan group of the club, the Manjappada (Yellow Army), decided to boycott the game against Jamshedpur FC in December as a way carrying out their protest.
Several tifos, including one in particular that read “Supporters, not customers”, were unveiled by the fans at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, as the once iconic venue witnessed an alarming dwindle in the attendance figures that dropped down to around 8,000 for the first time ever.
Results hardly improved at home for the Blasters, apart from that impressive win over Chennaiyin FC that put an end to winless run at home for over a year, as the numbers kept declining on the stands with every passing game in Kochi.
There were hardly any signs of the fans getting back on similar terms with the team even after the win against Chennaiyin and the attendance figures were as low as 4,000 in the final couple of games at the venue.
It almost seems like the fans are waging a war against the management and the cracks are already evident in their distasteful relationship, that has in one way or another, hindered the team’s progress.