Kerala Blasters FC is said to have dominated the transfer window before the ISL 2020-21 kicked-off. But in evident contrast to that, the club’s performance has only waned immensely this season around. It might be safe to say that the club sort of shook the transfer market by announcing big shots like Gary Hooper, Bakary Koné and Vicente Gómez arriving to don the yellow outfit, much-like how René Meulensteen brought in the likes of Dimitar Berbatov, Wes Brown and so on.
Needless to be reminded of again, the club has seen nine coaches in seven seasons which adds to the factor of instability and inconsistency of the club’s management. And one of the most passionate and the largest fan bases in Asia deserves a bit more than two playoffs in six seasons.
The earmarking of the new Sporting Director this season, Mr. Karolis Skinkys, gave the Yellow Army all the rays of hopes of sealing a spot in the top four this time around as he was widely known for taking FK Sūduva to glory in Lithuania, but in the management’s defense, the process inside the club is of a long-term planning. But this raises an oddly legitimate question – if all the other clubs in the league have started materializing on their starting XI and showcasing their best, why have Kerala Blasters FC not been able to emulate in the same sense? What could possibly be going infelicitous inside the management of Kerala Blasters FC?
Before the season kicked-off, Karolis Skinkys assured the fans of the club that if anything at all goes wrong this season, the sole responsibility will be taken up by the sporting director himself. Seems as though he has some pretty gutting questions to face now. And it may be pretty comprehensible now who is to blame here for the situation Kerala Blasters FC are facing.
Pre-set European mentalities will not win anybody games in this league. ISL has clearly proved in the last six seasons that big names, strong résumés and wide experiences simply do not matter to solidify one’s presence in the league. Few of the best examples are Stiven Mendoza, Nerijus Valskis, etcetera.
It might be agreeable that on paper Kerala Blasters FC are one of the strongest contingents but one of the most important factors for any team would be chemistry. Looking at the variety of backgrounds the foreigners of Kerala Blasters FC and the clubs which they have previously represented in their careers, it is conspicuous that the sporting director might have gone for big names and attractive résumés by sacrificing the most important factor – chemistry.
It is simply not plausible to build chemistry within a short period of time wherein a club has players from England, Australia, Burkina Faso, Argentina, Spain, Zimbabwe and India with a Spanish coach at the helm. This clearly connotes that there could have been miscommunications amidst the coach and the management, and any little kid who is a football admirer would have the basic understanding that the understanding and confidence between Spanish coach and Spanish players can’t simply be broken through any simple means. This is not the sort of signings a club should have carried out if excelling in the league is an objective for the club, provided the league runs only for four months.
To support the above said statement of miscommunication, in a recent interview Karolis Skinkys said that, “For Cido’s replacement, the coach had requested a different profile of player, so we looked at options that fit this profile and can slot into the system best.”
He also said – “We had talked with some of the players who had previously played in India but the deals didn’t materialize.”
Only if it had, probably the likes of Tiri, Joseba Beitia and and other Spanish players would have been donning the yellow outfit.
For the kind of money Kerala Blasters FC has spent on their foreign signings – keeping big names, big résumés, players from La Liga and top clubs of Europe as one of the main objectives, one can only get injured or finished players with that tag. And speaking about injuries, four out of seven foreigners were recovering from injuries before coming into Kerala Blasters FC this season, of which Gary Hooper is sustaining a perennial hamstring issue from his time from Australia. With the conditions in India and ISL, it is not going to get any better.
On the other hand, Jordan Murray has proved to be more useful than Gary Hooper when he started two times in a row for Kerala Blasters FC this season. Jordan Murray acknowledged in the pre-match press conference that this is a really big opportunity for him and that he has to prove himself here at all costs, provided it is his first time playing overseas. And so far in this season, Gary Hooper hasn’t been any better than how Dimitar Berbatov was for Kerala Blasters under René Meulensteen and David James.
Facundo Pereyra has been one of the stand-outs this season as he is either on par or above the likes of Brandon Fernandes, Hugo Boumous, Rafael Crivellaro and so on when it comes to average number of key passes per ninety minutes. This is another stat that clearly connotes how Kerala Blasters FC has been missing understanding and mutual support in the final third of the oppositions they have faced, along with the stat that Kerala Blasters FC has conceded 13 goals from seven appearances even after having the likes of Costa Nhamoinesu and Bakary Koné in their backline. It took a full Indian backline to show teamwork and spirit to acquire their first cleansheet of the season.
Sources suggest that the likes of Rubén Jurado were linked with Kerala Blasters FC, a Spanish striker, who probably would have materialized his position and understanding in the club if he were here already instead of Gary Hooper. Sources also connote that Karolis Skinkys rejected a few 33/34-year-olds who would have probably made the better out of the league than the ones who are already playing for Kerala Blasters FC. Instead of Gary Hooper, the club could have acquired some quality young players to don the yellow outfit. Else, what’s the point of playing the rest of the league when the club has very less chances of making it to the playoffs, given the kind of situation the club is in at the moment. Having to play 8 games in the month of January would be an impossible task for this squad in the foreseeable future of the remainder of the league.
One does not need an out of the world intelligence to realise that a team will need quality players upfront to convert the chances created. Given the situation, it looks as though Kibu Vicuña has been dejected by the sort of players he has been presented with this time around and since the coach personally requested to go for a player like Juande, it might probably bring in some good changes that will hopefully give genuine hopes for Manjappada for the next season of the ISL.