David James: Blasters on the 'wrong side of the coin'

Kerala Blasters prepares to face Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League in a bid to snap its 10-match winless run.

Kerala Blasters coach David James.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Ahead of the away tie against Mumbai City FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday, head coach David James explained the reasons holding back his team from converting stalemates into victories. Kerala Blasters FC has drawn more games in the Indian Super League than wins (six draws in 11 appearances and just one win).

“When your side is getting the wrong side of coin (refereeing decisions), it starts to erode the mood within a little. The players feel we are doing everything right (but not winning), this happened at the beginning of the season and put us in an awkward position,” said James.

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James reflected on the 1-1 draws in back-to-back home matches against Mumbai City and Delhi Dynamos in the early part of the season. “We played Mumbai City in the season’s first home game, it took a wonder goal in the 93rd minute (Pranjal Bhumij long-range equaliser for MCFC) to make the difference between three points and one point. You can stomach that because it took something special to deny us a win.

"The following game was a draw against Delhi where they equalised via a goal from an offside position and we were denied a penalty chance with a minute or two to go. The outcome was difficult to accept,” the former Liverpool player said.

Kerala Blasters is winless in its last 10 matches. PHOTO: ISL/SPORTZPICS



James added: “A bit of nerves crept in for the next two matches. The desire to win is always there, sometimes we need to hold it back a little. I put it down to the youthfulness in our squad and the experience we have to accumulate. Things are not going as per plans at the moment, compared to previous seasons, but we are learning.”

Fans boycott

After the successive losses to Bengaluru FC and FC Goa in front of a packed Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, the home fans in yellow conveyed their displeasure by boycotting the home matches against Jamshedpur FC and FC Pune City.

READ | Blasters fans boycott home game against Jamshedpur

Asked if his players feel let down by the strong message from fans, the coach said, “The fans have been wonderful for players. It is generally understood that if things are not going your way, fans don’t turn up. One win in one year is not a good return for the faithfuls. For me as chief coach and for my players, it is for us to start turning those results around. The fans hopefully will come back after that.”

The ex-England international pointed out that in this low period, selection of five Blasters players on the national squad is a boost to everyone associated with the club. “I hope fans come to cheer India players, even if not for Blasters.”

The India probables list for AFC Asian Cup 2019 includes Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Halicharan Narzary, Lalruatthara and newcomer Sahal Abdul Samad from Blasters.