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ISL 2017-18: David James - Expecting referees to be Premier League level is asking too much

6:10 PM IST 16/01/18
David James Kerala Blasters
The former Liverpool shot-stopper was against VAR in the Indian league but wanted the introduction of goal-line technology...

David James is on a turnaround mission of sorts with Kerala Blasters in the fourth season of the Indian Super League (ISL). Seven points from a possible nine after he took charge following Rene Meulensteen's sacking renders the two-time runners-up only two points within the top four spots.

"The two wins were vital. The second game against Mumbai was mentally and physically tough. 1-0 is my favourite scoreline because you are always on edge but can drain you somewhat. Confidence is in the team at the moment. We are looking forward to the match", he said on the eve of their away game at Jamshedpur FC on Wednesday.

"With the ISL, there is a tendency to change the starting lineups and it is very difficult to predict what you are going to get but there is a lot of energy in the Jamshedpur team and therefore we expect an energetic match.They've got a tremendous defence and we are not blessed with hundreds of chances in the game but we have been very efficient with our finishing in the last couple of games. We expect a very difficult game again", he added.

Discussing the volte-face by the Yellow Army, the three-time World Cupper expressed, " I took over a side that shouldn't have been in a position for the quality of players we have got. They needed some confidence and they have put up in the last two and a half games. In the first half against Pune was a bit difficult, I was just like a fan, watching the game but the second half was much much better"

"There's no magic to it. We have got the team organised and have the staff behind us. Not just myself, there are other coaches, the masseuses, doctors. Everyone is involved and committed to giving the players on the field the best chance of winning games of football and the players are dedicated too, which is always good."

Refereeing in the ISL has drawn much criticism from far and wide and an incident in Kerala's last match also caught the attention of critics to question the standard of officiating in the Indian ten-team league. James though had a different take on the matter.

The 47-year-old commented, " It is a topic which is very hot at the moment back in the UK. There is a cry out for consistency in referees which I think is wrong because they are expecting all the referee to be the same and I think that is taking out the human element. Ultimately, we are four seasons into the ISL and expecting the referees to say like the standard of the Premier League while the football isn't is asking too much"

"It will improve, the consistency should be for every referee to referee the way that he is. Players, coaches and even commentators know what they expect from the referee each game then it should be up to the governing body to appoint him in the future", he opined.

Asked if the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) would be of any help in the ISL, the former Liverpool man revealed he was not a fan of the technology. "​No chance (of introducing VAR in ISL). Goal-line technology yes, because that is what the teams are working for; if it crosses the line, it should be a goal. VAR is asking for more indecision, more time taken"

"When we had an issue in the last game when there was a lot of complaints with the goal. The freekick was actually taken from a yard where the incident happened even though the player fell 10 yards further away. Perfectly good but it caused a debate and football is about discussion and debate rather than a fourth eye making a decision for you", commented the 2008 FA Cup winner with Portsmouth.