Last season's finalists ATK and Kerala Blasters are having similar Indian Super League seasons this time around. Both teams appointed famous names as their head coach before the season began. Both sides sacked their coaches mid-way through the season. And both teams are are some way off the playoff spots in the ISL standings.
Rene Meulensteen and Teddy Sheringham were big names for sure. The former plied his trade alongside the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and the latter was one of the best forwards during his time at Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. But neither of them were proven head coaches.
Meulensteen's previous stints did not end well although an argument can be made about how he was never really afforded the time to build his base at the clubs he was at. But then in a short-term league like ISL, do clubs really have time?
Teddy's win percentage as a head coach is 23.26%. We would all have loved to be a fly on the wall in the boardroom at ATK when the decision to hire Sheringham was taken.
Both clubs have moved on and now have two personalities who are well versed in the Indian football culture. Ashley Westwood built the dais upon which Bengaluru FC are dancing in delight at the moment. Westwood helped the Blues to two I-League titles and is now holding an interim role at an Indian Super League side.
Two-time ISL finalists Kerala Blasters brought back David James to take charge at the club. James took the Yellow Army to the final in the inaugural edition of ISL and had the experience of working with the likes of skipper Sandesh Jhingan, Iain Hume and January signing Victor Pulga.
Injuries have hit the Kolkata-based club hard and they are yet to earn a point under Westwood but the 'interim' coach cannot be blamed for their run of form. It is also worth mentioning that their last four games have been against the current top four clubs on the table. They are not at the bottom of the table though, thanks to Delhi Dynamos and NorthEast United.
Of all teams, Kerala Blasters have played the most number of games so far. They have just one home game left and have played 14 games already - at least a game more than the rest of the pack. David James' options have been limited but he has stabilized the ship that was rapidly sinking until the turn of the New Year.
Both the clubs chased the hype and paid their price. Until Indian Super League becomes the top-tier league that lasts seven to eight months per season, proven Indian football coaches are the way to go. New ones will have new ideas and a bigger project but if you're not ready to give them time, then why hire them in the first place?