After yet another stalemate – this time against a very competent team in Jamshedpur FC – Kerala Blasters are handed a shot at redemption as they take on ninth-placed Pune City at home on Friday. The season five of the Indian Super League (ISL) has not been kind to the two-time finalists.
Head coach David James believes that good results are eluding them despite playing a good brand of football.
“It (game against Jamshedpur) was a very good performance. It is another game we have not won. The spirit in the team is very positive after that.”
James was asked if there’s pressure to perform and get a win after a string of poor results, especially because Kerala are up against a lower placed team. The Englishman responded that he treats each game exactly like what they are – an opportunity to bag three points.
“Pressure is subjective, isn't it? We have to win every game, be it Pune or Bengaluru.”
“I don't think the confidence has been a problem. It has to be said, when you are playing as well as you did against a better footballing side as Jamshedpur and don't come away with a win, you can't say it will be an easier game or a tougher game,” said James.
The Englishman was highly critical about how Pune are a bit too harsh with their tackles. James was baffled at how the Stallions haven’t had to deal with a lot of suspensions, given how ‘disgraceful’ their tackles seem.
“I think they have had a few suspensions and Hume has only just come in. I am surprised that they have not had more suspensions, some of the tackles that some of their players make are borderline disgraceful.”
Centre-half Sandesh Jhingan was kept out of Kerala’s fixture against Chennaiyin FC last week and was brought on as a substitute in the right-back position. The Englishman is content with his performance as a wing-back.
“Sandesh's performance when he came on against Chennaiyin as a right-wing-back was shaded of 2014. He is very comfortable in that position. Of course, yes, if it helps us win games.”
The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium witnesses an all-time low attendance of just above 8100 when they hosted Jamshedpur earlier this week. James is not concerned about the fall in numbers and believes that the fans have the rights to do as they please.
“Fans do what fans do. The supporters came, supported us. The performance was outstanding, it wasn't because or not because of the fans being there. We need more of that. Fans are entitled to do what they want, I have no control on that.”
Former Manchester United forward who had a short, forgettable stint with Kerala criticised James’s style of play and accused him of going long every time. The Englishman was unnerved and mentioned that the opponents’ style of play has a huge role to play on how Kerala choose to approach the game.
“Apparently, I play long-ball football, someone once said. If we need to play long-ball, we play long-ball, like Bengaluru and Goa do. It depends on the opposition and how the game pans out.”