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ISL 2019-20: Why Kerala Blasters should take a leaf out of ATK's book as pivotal summer awaits

ISL 2019-20: Why Kerala Blasters should take a leaf out of ATKs book as pivotal summer awaits

Olive Paul

Published: 15 Feb 2020 12:02 PM GMT

It's hard to deny that Kerala Blasters’ season has been

severely disrupted by injuries, but how many Blasters’ fans can honestly say

that having kept their best players fit they would have made it to the

play-offs - let alone won things? The problems at Blasters’ seem far more

deep-rooted than that - a product of careless recruitment and poor preparation,

to put it lightly.

Outside of the top four is now becoming a regular occurrence for Blasters, who have had yet another turbulent season that filled fans with mass disappointment. The performances on the pitch have been largely incoherent; while off the field the recruitment team and key members in the running of the club do not appear to be painting themselves in a positive light either.

Kerala Blaster FC have a lot to learn from ATK (Image: ISL)
Kerala Blaster FC have a lot to learn from ATK (Image: ISL)

When comparing Blasters’ to ATK, their arch rival, there is a clear contrast not only on the pitch, but also off it. Being out of contention for the playoffs at least gives Blasters a chance to introspect and taking a leaf out of ATK’s book may not be the worst idea the Blasters’ could ever have.

Having fallen short of the play-offs themselves in the previous two seasons, ATK wasted little time in clearing the decks for a new era. Head coach Steve Coppell was shown the door to make way for Antonio Lopez Habas, the man who took them to glory in the inaugural season. While several high-earning flops were released, Habas replaced them with an excellent crop of foreign players, including A-League top scorer Roy Krishna, David Williams, Javi Hernandez, Carl McHugh and Agustin Iniguez.

A major reason for ATK’s success

under Habas has been their quality of recruitment. And ATK had to spend big to

get some of these big –hitters. In fact, in football

there’s a relationship between performance and costs: better players win more

matches and there’s a well developed market that ensure that better-quality

players attract higher wages. As a result, higher wage expenditure improves


The league table makes football as relative as it gets: your performance is judged in the context of the performances of others. As soon as one club spends that money on better players then everyone else has to follow suit or risk losing out on the pitch.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Blasters. Recruitment-wise they have been struggling. A major cause of discontent among Kerala faithful is the distinct lack of quality recruiting in recent seasons.

This season, the franchise's decision to sign mediocre discards from various Indian Super League (ISL) teams has backfired. Apart from Bartholomew Ogbeche, who is a top talent and to some extent Messi Bouli, all other foreign recruits have come a cropper.

In contract, ATK has not only spent money but also spent it wisely. They’ve bought in overseas players from leagues that are stronger than the ISL. It’s a stark reminder to Blasters’ hierarchy that there are no shortcuts to success. If they wish to return to where they were in the halcyon days, the Blasters need to improve the quality of their foreign recruits. Whichever way you look at, Blasters need to spend and spend well to improve the team.

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