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Nelo Vingada at Kerala Blasters: New Professor, New Lessons

06:12 SAST 2019/01/22
Nelo Vingada NorthEast United FC Chennaiyin FC ISL season 3 2016
Nelo Vingada has a difficult task at Kerala Blasters...

The managerial merry-go-round at Kerala Blasters took a new turn when the club announced the appointment of former NorthEast United head coach Nelo Vingada as David James' replacement. 

After the lack of progress under James, it was a move made out of necessity. Vingada has had an extensive career, with stints of varied success at several clubs across the globe. He has coached Portugal, Saudi Arabia, FC Seoul and Malaysia. It did, however, help that he was on the lookout for opportunities.

The 65-year-old tactician is the club's seventh head coach in four-and-a-half seasons of the ISL. They have sacked their coaches midseason for two years in a row and in three seasons out of their five-year history. After three English managers (David James was, however, appointed twice), an Irishman and a Dutchman, the responsibility of winning a trophy has been handed over to a Portuguese coach.

Kerala Blasters have been often criticised for a lack of identity and imagination, especially while going forward. These factors, in addition to poor results of late, have alienated a large section of the stadium-goers. Vingada's addition seems to be an attempt to not just turnaround their fortunes but also to change the style of play.

To his benefit, the league is set to resume after a break of 40 days due to India's exploits at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and the ISL clubs' form will be reset, allowing the new coach to start afresh.

Vingada took NorthEast United to the fifth spot in the third season of the eight-team ISL in 2016. He lost the final playoff spot to ATK by two points but his team did make an attempt to play attacking football, which is one of the facets that the Blasters faithful have been yearning for. 

However, it has to be noted that Vingada's last stint ended badly. He spent seven winless months in charge of the Malaysia national team, losing six out of seven matches and consequently resigned in December 2017.

His most recent work was with the Iran national team at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup as part of Carlos Queiroz's coaching staff. His experience and understanding of the game are held in high regard by many and that might be what Blasters need at this juncture.

The Yellow Army are winless in their last ten games and their only win of the season came in the campaign opener when they beat ATK in Kolkata. Vingada's first task will be to beat the same opposition when they visit Kochi on January 25.

With the January transfer window open and several players on the move, the new coach has his work cut out. The playoffs may be a distant dream for Blasters but Vingada has to bring the supporters back on board and that is only possible by playing positive football and picking up wins along the way. As with every manager, his ultimate aim will be to win a trophy and the 2019 Super Cup will certainly be on the agenda for the new coach who has signed a contract till May 2019.

Vingada will do well to stabilize a team that has never won more than two league stage games on the trot since their inception. His ideas and their implementation will be put to test in front of a vociferous crowd as Kerala Blasters opens a new chapter midway through the season.