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David James set to extend Kerala Blasters stay even as Berbatov takes parting dig

Written by: Sabin Castelino

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The Englishman is set to stay at the club until 2021 having signed a new 3-year deal.

Today is a historic day as David James has been announced as the Head Coach of Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Kerala Blasters till 2021. This is a first in the history of the Indian ISL, that one of its franchisees has announced such a long-term contract for their manager.

David James has a legendary track record as a player and has been capped 53 times of his country, England. He has also been awarded the medal of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his service to the country in football.

He had a long playing career in the Premier League, where he was the first choice goalkeeper for most of his career and has put in excellent performances. He started his career in the second division at Watford in 1988 and impressed one and all to take giant strides.

He then went on to play with Liverpool, West Ham United and Portsmouth before ending his English career with AFC Bournemouth before moving North to Iceland where he played for Íþróttabandalag Vestmannaeyja, the yesteryear Icelandic champions.

David James shared a good relationship with the captain Sandesh Jhingan

After this, he decided to go out in search of new opportunities with his coaching licence also completed. He was contacted by Kerala Blasters to be their marquee player-manager and he jumped at the opportunity in 2014.

He lead Kerala Blasters to their first final and worked excellently to gain support form the management as well as the fans. But, it came as quite a shock when it was declared in the 2015 season that James wouldn't be returning to the club.

However, come the 2017-18 season which saw many coaches being sacked and replaced, James was recalled by his former employers to replace former Manchester United first team coach, Rene Mulensteen. This was a time of turmoil for KBFC as the Tuskers were struggling for form and had been drawing matches at an alarmingly high rate.

To his credit, the Englishman came in, steadied the ship and ensured that the Blasters finished a respectable sixth and qualified for the main round of the inaugural Super Cup. He has now been rewarded for his work and has been given a contract until the 2021 season.

But it has not been a day only for rejoicing with news coming in that star player Dimitar Berbatov has left for his native. Berbatov had a tumultuous season of football in India and things did not go exactly as planned. The legendary striker received a lot of flak from media and some fans for not living up to the expectations that his legendary status carries.

But, as always he kept his head down and worked hard behind the scenes to play his part in the team's campaign without as much as voicing out his opinions. During Rene Mulensteen's time in-charge, the club suffered from incessant draws and the attacking third was blamed continually for the lack of goals.

Berbatov had come heavily under the scanner as reports emerged of his loner-like behaviour and how it was being detrimental to the team. According to the reports, he would always be alone and not take part in team meetings where he could have easily inspired his teammates.

But none of this mattered to the frontman or the Kerala Blasters as soon, Mulensteen was sacked and James was brought back to guide the Blasters on the right track. The former shot-stopper and Berbatov's career had coincided in the Premier League.

In his first few games, James overlooked the forward in spite of his obvious talent and the sequence continued. Reports had initially emerged that the two weren't seeing eye-to-eye and now as the Bulgarian has departed

As per his latest Instagram post, he is on his way back home to Bulgaria and will not be a part of the Blasters' Super Cup campaign. Having finished sixth on the table, the Blasters have gained direct entry into the competition's main round and this is the only chance of silverware for them this season.

Dimitar Berbatov's social media antic has not gone well with the Blasters' fans

With Berbatov out it seems even more difficult for them to mount a credible challenge to the inaugural competition. But, the parting of ways has hardly been amicable as the striker left India but not before having his final say on his Instagram Story.

He used the hashtags #WorstWannaBeCoachEver and #WorstTacticalAdviceEver along with #SeasonFinished and #TimetoGoHome. As if this was not enough of a dig, Berbatov added another long hashtag explaining the bad tactics saying," #ChipTheBallTOStrikersChestAndWeTakeItFromThere/WTF/WhoPlayLikeThis ."


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Berbatov's displeasure at playing under James has finally been confirmed and it seems his ire may be warranted as the advice seems to be pretty weird if true.  How the will the fans react to this criticism is yet to be seen, but neutrals have already trained their guns on the Englishman.

So to summarise, it has been a day of great joy and sorrow for Kerala Blasters' fans as there has been a contract extension for their favourite manager, but also the departure of their star-man his season.

Published: Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:01 PM IST

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