Important for Kerala Blasters FC to remain consistent next season: Sporting director Karolis Skinkys
Kerala Blasters FC delivered a performance their passionate supporters were crying out for in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season as they qualified for the semi-finals after six years.
The Blasters may have fallen short of winning their first Hero ISL trophy as they lost out to Hyderabad FC on penalties in the final, the team led by Ivan Vukomanovic gave fans plenty of optimism regarding the future.
But Kerala Blasters FC faithful would know that the club has a history of failing to build on good seasons. In each of the three seasons following an appearance in a Hero ISL final, the Kerala Blasters FC have failed to reach the semi-final.
It’s a fact that may keep the yellow army modest ahead of the new season but it’s certainly something sporting director Karolis Skinkys is determined to correct in the upcoming campaign.
"Now, the most important thing is to keep consistency, make the right choices [going] forward. Football never stops. The team and the dressing room and the club structure is alive [and evolving]... it always keeps changing, there's always something happening, we also need to understand that some changes need to be done to stay on [track],” Skinkys told ESPN India in an interview.
Skinkys who joined Kerala Blasters FC ahead of Hero ISL 2020-21 had a big job on hands after his first season at the club that ended with the team finishing in tenth place.
The Lithuanian took stock of the failings of the 2020-21 season and made the necessary course corrections to get the Blasters back competing again.
One of the main changes was in the coaching hot seat where he had to appoint a head coach that would adapt to Indian football and Hero ISL.
In Ivan Vukomanovic, he found the perfect personality.
"We needed to start from the basics, and this is maybe where we made a mistake in the first season. We [wanted] to play some kind of possession [based] attacking football, [with I-league winning coach Kibu Vicuna] but in my opinion, it wasn't the most efficient way. So we [wanted to find] the correct coach. That was the main target, to have a mentally strong coach who has an ability to adapt and choose the most efficient way to play,” Skinkys mentioned in the interview.
Vukomanovic proved to be exactly the galvanising presence in the Kerala Blasters FC dressing room as Skinkys had desired getting the best out of both young and Indian players.
In the likes of Adrian Luna, Alvaro Vazquez and Jorge Perreyra Diaz he had attacking players who couldn't just produce the necessary attacking sparks but also put in the hard yards. In Marko Leskovic, they had a leader at the back alongside the Indian veteran Harmanjot Khabra who produced another exceptional season.
The Indian players complemented these foreign stars perfectly as Kerala Blasters FC proved to be a very strong unit.
It will be interesting to see how Skinkys and Vukomanovic take the Kerala Blasters FC project ahead but for the fans who may still be smarting from the loss in the final, there is plenty to look forward to under the current regime.