We need to continue with our consistency: Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic

The Kerala Blasters FC head coach Ivan Vukomanovic was extremely delighted with the result and his team's approach as they got the better of Jamshedpur FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the JRD Tata Sports Complex, in Jamshedpur, on Sunday. A first half strike from Dimitrios Diamantakos resulted in a fourth straight win for KBFC, while hosts Jamshedpur FC slumped to their fifth straight defeat.

Vukomanovic revealed he was cautious of Jamshedpur FC despite their recent run of results, but was proud of the way his team kept more possession and created chances from open play. He further explained how Kerala Blasters FC wanted to explore a new style of play and he emphasised that a different approach is required every time, considering the opponent.

Speaking in the official post-match press conference, the 45-year-old said he expects his team to qualify for the playoffs because of the qualities they possess and he further shed light on the importance of consistency in building a team that will always stay competitive.

Here are the excerpts from Vukomanovic’s press conference:

What are your thoughts on the game, and how do you analyse it?

We knew before the game and before we arrived that it would be a very tough game for us. On Saturday, we mentioned that when you play against a team that is coming off four defeats in a row, it does not mean a lot, and maybe their confidence is a bit negative.

You can easily be fooled in the trap because these teams are the most dangerous, and if we (Kerala Blasters FC) think after three wins in a row that it is going to be an easy game, then we are wrong. We were hammering on this thing in the past couple of days that we must not think that we are the best or better whatsoever.

We need to approach this kind of game with seriousness, full power, and concentration. We know from last year that Jamshedpur FC are not easy to handle, and it is not easy to manage against such teams. This year as well, there is more power, especially up front, and we had to deal with those long balls and long throw ins and physical duels. All those things are very dangerous to manage. We also knew there was a chance to make something happen from the set-pieces like tonight we wanted something to happen a bit different from our playing style, keeping the ball around and having possession while creating the chances. I was glad as a coach to see such things happen on the pitch, and at the end, we are very happy with the three points.

There was a shout for a penalty when Ishan Pandita was fouled. Do you think it was a penalty?

So far, I have not seen the videos, and it was quite difficult to make a call from the bench. I cannot say if it was inside or outside the box. It was quite difficult for me to see it.

Jamshedpur FC got a lot of set-pieces in the second half. Do you think the team got under a lot of pressure during that time?

Absolutely. The set-pieces are one of the strengths of this Jamshedpur FC team, but whenever you are under pressure with the long throw-ins or corner kicks, there is a slight chance that you will concede goals. They had a couple of headers in that situation, and we were very lucky to not concede.

They (Jamshedpur FC) are a very strong team, and if we allow them to come into the box, put you under pressure, and let them play with their style, then you are down and have no chance against them. We wanted to move them away from the goal to keep the possession, try to organise the things like we wanted to play and at the end we are happy with the three points.

You had more chances in open play compared to Jamshedpur FC. Is that a tactic or a reason behind your style of play?

It was our tactic tonight. In the last couple of games, we were playing a bit defensively and not allowing the opponents to come between our lines, and tonight we wanted to change it. We had a two-week break since our last game in Hyderabad, where we played more defensively. Tonight, we wanted to have this approach and have more ball in our possession, to move around and try to create chances from open spaces as this was what we have been working since the last week.

This was the style we wanted to explore tonight, and it always changes according to the opponent, we cannot play the same way.

You have won four games on the bounce now. Is there some goal you have in mind while watching how this team is going?

I think whenever the Hero ISL campaign starts, every team wants to be among the top, and watching our last season’s achievements (the finals), we are working consistently and we want our team to compete to be in the top six for playoffs.

Nobody expected us to be in the finals last year, so for us this year, we went through some changes in our team, and we as a club want a structure to fit into the picture. We have many youngsters coming into the team, and last year we were one of the youngest teams in the league. So, this year, we need to continue with our consistency and work on how we want to achieve certain things.

It is not easy, as anybody can beat anyone in this league. It doesn’t matter that Jamshedpur FC is negative, they are a good team, and it has happened with us as well.

In this league, you need to be consistent and be ready for all the games. Kerala Blasters FC can be in the playoffs, it is the objective for our club and our fans, as we deserve that, and the team has the quality we can hope for.

For a team to become a winning team, how important is it to stay consistent with the same coach, same unit, and same players?

As a coach, the most important thing is that you have consistency with the same coach and coaching staff, because if you constantly change your group, nobody has time to get used to it and the players cannot get used to you. They will have a tough time getting used to your coaching style, which means you have to reset and go back to zero. You must have consistency, every year the players come and go, and it is an inevitable thing in football, and we have to accept the fact that they go  for better conditions or better ideas.

For us to work consistently, it gives us (the technical staff) time and confidence, and when you have this kind of complete interaction, the results will come.

There is no relegation in the Hero ISL as of now. Do you think that (relegation) not being there brings a difference to the structure of the side or lack of pressure on the sides?

If there is relegation then you have to fight until the last moment, fight for your life. When there is good club structure, good ideas, consistency, and good communication with the manager and your coaching staff, you are building up the process and the project. Then, over the long term, you will have created a team that will always compete for the top of the league and be in the playoffs. When you are not at the club anymore, there is a legacy and a structure that give the club the opportunity and hope to be recognised as a top club.

It is good that the league is longer which gives the club to prepare better and organise the things because on a short term things cannot be managed well and the season is done. I like being here as the league is tough and unpredictable. Let us hope for the best.

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