Kochi: Kerala Blasters' head coach David James has proposed to adopt a win-at-all-costs approach against Jamshedpur on Tuesday when the club's biggest fan group, Manjappada, has threatened a boycott, in the light of poor results.
James's second full season in charge of the Blasters has come under immense scrutiny as the team has managed only a point in their last four matches, and Manjappada that has close to three lakh followers on Facebook had recently demanded the ouster of the Englishman.
He sounded empathetic toward the fans but also claimed that reaching the final was not their season objective. "When the fans are not enjoying what they are seeing that makes sense," James said pre-match.
"I'm a football fan myself and a Kerala Blasters fan as you all know. It is difficult to sometimes go and watch your team not doing well….. the way we have recruited we weren't expecting to reach the final at the end of a year.
"We will take any win, at the start of the season you want things to be right but we are not in that position anymore. There are thin line between wanting to look good and being effective. I think we want to be effective now."
Kerala will welcome back captain Sandesh Jhingan into the starting XI after the defender was used as a substitute in their previous game, an eventful goalless draw to Chennaiyin. Nikola Krcmarevic, who had started every game of the season will miss out with an injury and Zakeer Mundampara is expected to deputise.
Striker Slavisa Stojanovic has reportedly recovered from a knock while Courage Pekuson remains doubtful.
Despite being in the vicinity of the playoffs with 15 points from 10 matches, seven better than their hosts, Jamshedpur have refused to take their struggling hosts lightly.
Head coach Cesar Ferrando credited Kerala as their best opponent from the first half of the season, after the yellow brigade had drawn level at 2-2 from a half-time deficit of 2-0 late October.
It is a difficult game and they have a good team and a good coach. They play in a front of many supporters and they want three points," Ferrando said. Jamshedpur will be without centre-back Raju Gaikwad while Tim Cahill and Michael Soosairaj will be hoping to get on the scoresheet once again.