The time has come to introduce you to Kerala Blasters manager David James. Well, the former Liverpool and England keeper doesn’t really need a big introduction but we’re going to give it to you anyway.
As mentioned, James is most famously known for his seven-year spell as goalkeeper for English giants Liverpool from 1992 to 1999. He made his professional debut at Watford in 1988 and retired as player-manager in 2014, right here in India, for Kerala Blasters.
He started coaching before coming to India however, first as a player-coach for IBV in Iceland and then for Luton in England. But his first real managerial position was the first stint at Kerala Blasters.
Here he guided the Blasters through the ISL regular season and all the way to the final of the inaugural season, where a very late goal from Rafique separated the two sides as Atletico de Kolkata, or ATK as they are now known, took the win.
After that season James retired and has spent four years out of the coaching role, before returning to Kerala midway through last season.
After a relatively poor start for Rene Meulensteen he had to vacate his position after a 2-1 loss to Goa in January 21st. James came in only a day after the sacking of Meulensteen and guided Kerala to a win over Delhi three days later. Under James, the side won three of their remaining six games, drawing two and losing only the last match, to table toppers Bengaluru.
Those three wins were, unfortunately for Kerala not enough, as they made up half of the wins they got all season. With a goal difference of -2 and 25 points they ended sixth in the table, two places outside a playoff spot.
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James brings with him Icelandic badass and former Portsmouth team-mate Hermann Hreidarsson as an assistant. The pair knows each other from their time spent together at Portsmouth and it was, in fact, Hreidarsson who was the manager at IBV and brought the former England international there.
So can the dynamic duo of English footballing tradition and Icelandic Viking powers bring glory to Kerala for the first time in the clubs history? Well, the pre-season started off poorly with two heavy defeats, 6-0 and 5-0, to Melbourne City and La Liga side Girona, before a tour of Thailand and some action against B-sides brought plenty of wins.
Last year James struggled to nail down a formation, so that would have been priority number one. The star names are lacking from this squad so James will have to rely on the team as a whole and it will be interesting to see how they line up in the opening match come Saturday against ATK.