If there is one club in Indian football that divides opinion like no other, it has to be Kerala Blasters. One of the most followed Indian Super League (ISL) outfits in the country, the Tuskers have so much going for them that it sometimes becomes difficult to believe how inconsistent they have been over the years. A football-mad state, passionate fanbase and proper club structure notwithstanding, the fact remains that they just haven't lived up to their potential. A lot of that has to do with the constant managerial merry-go-round that has seen as many as 9 appointments in 7 seasons. Here we take a look at five names that can replace the latest casualty, Kibu Vicuna, following a disastrous 2020-21 campaign that saw them finish 10th in the league.
The young Spaniard's time at NorthEast United may have been cut short due to unfavourable results, but he still is a viable option for the Tuskers to look at. Having impressed with the Highlanders in the initial part of last season, the UEFA Pro license holder might well be the perfect mix of pragmatism and aggression that the Southern giants require. An avid tactician who thrives in defensive shapes and organisations, Nus can also bring the best out of youngsters like Rahul KP and Sahal Abdul Samad in an efficient counter-attacking setup.
The former Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburg and Wolfsburg manager is also an option that Kerala Blasters sporting director Karolis Skinkys is reportedly weighing up. His last assignment was with Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin which came to a disappointing end earlier this year following a string of poor results. Nonetheless, his pedigree as a coach is unquestionable and with more than 16 years of experience, the 55-year-old German is a dark horse in this race.
The 52-year-old Spaniard could be one of the surprise choices for the Blasters' hotseat. He is currently in charge of UD Melilla in the Spanish Segunda Division B and has also managed the likes of Racing Santander and SD Eibar. Moreover, he has other connections with the ISL, having succeeded current Mumbai City head coach Sergio Lobera at Moroccan outfit Moghreb Tetouan in 2019-20 as well as having been in the running for the FC Goa job which eventually went to Juan Ferrando. His experience of building teams from the ground up in multiple divisions in Spain might just give him an edge in this case.
The Portuguese coach is another name that has popped up in the Tuskers' radar recently with some reports suggesting that he was a part of the initial shortlist that the club hierarchy had drawn up. Although discussion regarding the same has somewhat fizzled out since, Pereira is an experienced campaigner who has managed teams like Fenerbahce, Olympiacos, FC Porto and most recently Shanghai SIPG in China. He was also in the reckoning for the job at Everton back in 2019 which further underlines how highly he is rated as a manager.
The 57-year-old Dutchman is undoubtedly the biggest name in the list of prospective head coaches for Kerala Blasters. He was recently sacked by Bundesliga heavyweights Bayer Leverkusen and has previously managed big teams like Ajax, Feyenoord and Borussia Dortmund. However, as reported in the media, bringing him to India is set to be an expensive affair and it remains to be seen if the Tuskers have the financial muscle to pull this off in a year that has seen most ISL clubs run on losses due to the impact of the pandemic.