Coppell thanks fans, unclear about his ISL future

Kerala Blasters head coach Steve Coppell said that he would finalise his ISL plans early next year.

Stev Coppell

Steve Coppell expressed disappointment over the scheduling of matches and revealed that Kerala Blasters was a very weary side going into the final.   -  H. Vibhu

They began as the league’s little boys, the weaklings in a club that lacked proper balance, and Steve Coppell deserves a huge round of applause for guiding Kerala Blasters to the runner-up spot in the Indian Super League after >losing to Atletico de Kolkata in a heartbreaking tie-breaker.

Coppell, the Kerala head coach, thanked the fans for their huge support and stressed that they deserved a stronger and balanced side. But, he was not clear about his future with the club.

“The Kerala fans made the occasion, if it had been somewhere else, there was no way it would have been the fabulous atmosphere that it was here. So, on behalf of all the players and all support staff, I would like to say a huge thank you to the supporters,” said the former Manchester City boss after the ISL final here on Sunday. “We’ve really enjoyed doing our best for them. I’m sorry we couldn’t bring home the cup but it was a great experience.”

The former World Cupper said he would finalise his plans early next year. “Now when you’re feeling so bad after the result, it’s a wrong time to talk about it,” said the 61-year-old. “Now, I want to go home and see my mom, I haven’t seen her for a long time, she’s a lady of a certain age. After Christmas and New Year, I will speak with the owners and see what their plans are. There is a lot to be done for this club to reward their supporters with the right set of players.”

Better preparation

Coppell repeated that the squad lacked balance and hoped that the club would be better prepared next season.

“We discussed, not me individually, the future of the club going forward and I’m sure the owners will make sure that the club is better prepared going into next season. Doesn’t guarantee that it’s going to be successful but lessons learned from this season should be carried forward.”

Coppell revealed that Kerala was a very weary side going into the final and did not deserve such a situation after finishing second in the league phase. Clearly, the ISL organisers need to plan things better next time.

“We didn’t lose the game, we lost the tournament on penalties. Anybody could have won, we were two very, very tired teams, and from our point of view, we played three games in seven days,” explained the Englishman.

“We had to travel to Delhi when we shouldn’t have had to travel there (as Kerala finished ahead of Delhi, it should have had its second-leg semifinal in Kochi), I don’t want this to sound like sour grapes because Kolkata have won it but we shouldn’t have had to travel to Delhi.

“After the game against Delhi, we couldn’t get flights out of Delhi. We had to stay in Delhi for a day so we couldn’t recover properly and then the next day, we had to fly back to Kochi. We had to split the team into five separate groups and the players started flying back at 5 a.m. and the last players got back to the hotel at 8 in the night. So in terms of the preparation we’ve had, I thought my players were magnificent.”

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