Eelco Schattorie is the second Dutch head coach to take charge of Kerala Blasters. However, unlike former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen, the issues at the Kochi-based club will not be unchartered waters for the former NorthEast United gaffer.
At the beginning of last season, Schattorie referred to his task at hand as turning a Mini Cooper into a Ferrari and also said that Taj Mahal wasn't built in a day.
The 51-year-old is as practical as he is outspoken. He is the sort of coach who openly shares his thoughts about his team and their quality (or the lack of it) and yet, tries to get the best out of whatever has been made available to him.
It was evident in all his stints in India and his 2018-19 season with NorthEast United was the latest example. Nobody expected the Highlanders to get into the playoffs even if they had all their players fit and available throughout the season. Schattorie led them to the semi-final despite missing key players at crucial stages of the season.
This will strike a chord with the Blasters faithful. The performances of foreign players and a lot of the Indian players (of which some of them are on multi-year deals) the Yellow Army signed last season fell well short of the expected standards. But they have invested heavily in young Indian players recently and Schattorie's job will be to incorporate them well into his setup.
Home Win % (No of wins/games played)
Away Win % (No of wins/games played)
Total Win % (No of wins/games played)
|David James (Kerala Blasters)||7.69% (1/13)||38.46% (5/13)||26.08% (6/23)|
|Rene Meulensteen (Kerala Blasters)||20% (1/5)||0 (0/2)||14.29% (1/7)|
|Nelo Vingada (Kerala Blasters)||25% (1/4)||0 (0/3)||14.29% (1/7)|
|Eelco Schattorie (NorthEast United)||30% (3/10)||45.45 (5/11)||38.09% (8/21)|
Kerala Blasters have their fair share of talented Indian players. The likes of Lalruatthara and Mohammad Rakip can improve under Schattorie, similar to how Reagan Singh and Robert Lalthlamuana excelled as full-backs in NorthEast's system.
NorthEast United's success can be attributed to his man management and tactics. But while they had a depleted defence most times and Schattorie had to work around that, Bartholomew Ogbeche and Federico Gallego proved to be excellent outlets in the attacking third, an area that requires upgrade at Blasters.
Schattori's Highlanders did well away from home but won just three home games, a form not too dissimilar to that of Blasters who have three wins at home since December 2016. He won three out of nine home games and fifteen out of 32 home matches at East Bengal and Prayag United respectively.
Having managed two Kolkata-based clubs and NorthEast United, Schattorie knows the pressure of having supporters breathing down his neck chasing results and it will be no different at Blasters. If he can get off to a winning start and win at the Kochi stadium for a change, good days are on the horizon for Kerala Blasters.