The former Manchester United and Kerala Blasters coach Rene Meulensteen has hit out at Indian national team defender and the Kerala-based Indian Super League (ISL) side's captain Sandesh Jhingan for his unprofessional attitude.
The Dutch coach was sacked in the first week of January following a disappointing defeat against Bengaluru FC in Kochi. Sandesh Jhingan handled the ball inside the box to gift the visitors their opening goal and was at fault for the rest of the goals as well.
Speaking exclusively to Goal, Meulensteen said, "One of the most important factors (for the sacking) and I think everybody needs to know this - after the game against FC Goa, where we lost 5-2, I found out that the captain Sandesh Jhingan had been up partying and drinking until 4 AM in the morning.
"Do you call that being a good professional? If you call that being a good captain, then I think that is a poor practice."
He added, "They did not want to win that game (against Bengaluru). That was probably part of getting rid of me. If you look at the goals we conceded, you look at the penalty. There is no reason for Sandesh Jhingan to put his hand out. For the third goal, he just let (Miku) past him like there is nobody there."
"And the day I got released, I asked him about the performance and he was still smelling of alcohol. And that is the captain who is representing the fans and the club. He thinks he is a big professional in India but in my opinion, he let himself and everybody down! Disgraceful," criticised Meulensteen.
However, the coach also said that there was no dressing room unrest while he was in charge.
"I even didn't have any problem with Jhingan or anybody. I found out about what happened after the Goa game and it was the CEO Varun (Tripuraneni) who dealt with it. I had a chat with the owner about it, he knew it. But that was fine, no problem. We could deal with it."
This (dressing room unrest) is in my opinion, one of the made up stories that didn't really exist and that has been fuelled by just a few individuals who had the ear of the owner," he accused,
"If you ask every Indian player, one-by-one, about me or the coaching, I don't think you will hear a bad word. Because I had no complaints about the squad, about the players, about the way that they trained. After the Goa game, I felt something wasn't right," said Meulensteen.
Kerala Blasters appointed David James within days after the sacking of Rene Meulensteen. They are currently sixth on the table, with 14 points from 11 games.
When Goal tried to contact Kerala Blasters, the team management refused to comment on the same.