No one can question his pedigree. He was a top footballer for club and country; fans adored him wherever he went. So, you know that when you find a player of the likes of David James managing a club in the Indian Super League that the game in the sub-content is growing. Keeper James represented England 53 times and on the domestic front he managed to win two major honours in the game, that of the League Cup with Liverpool in 1995 and the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008.
These days you will find James, who also enjoyed the distinction of playing for Aston Villa, Manchester City and West Ham United, in his second spell as boss of Kerala Blasters, the club owned by cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar. James was a player for the Blasters before coaching them to the 2014 Indian Super League final but departed after they lost 1–0 to Atlético de Kolkata and his contract expired.
But when the Blasters sacked former Manchester United first-team coach Rene Meulensteen as their manager after a run of disappointing defeats earlier this year, James was handed the role once again.
And despite the third draw on the spin for the Blasters in their game on Monday, James says he was content to have collected a point in the 2-2 stalemate on the road against Jamshedpur, for whom former Everton ace Tim Cahill scored. He said:
“We made a couple of changes in the first half but they didn’t work. Conceding in the first three minutes was not as bad as last year, but when the second goal went in, I thought that it might be worse. I wanted to make a couple of changes in the first half but I let the first half run through. I did tell Doungel that if he plays he must get a goal. He didn’t get a goal but he got two assists which are goals in my books.
“We did well after missing a penalty, it was a great save. But we came back and made it even. In the end, we also had a half chance to sneak in the winner. But when you’re 2-0 down, you can’t expect to win games. I think we deserved the point in the end. I’m happy with the point. I think we played well in the second half, got some control. Timing is key in football. But after going 2-0 down and missing a penalty I think I’m happy with the point. We put on a good show of determination, confidence and teamwork to achieve this.”
And of crossing swords with his old foe from his days in England, James added:
“Tim Cahill has scored a header against me a few years ago so I’m not surprised to see him score today. But the mindset of our players changed in the second half. Jamshedpur are a very good side and by ensuring that a team like that doesn’t take all three points we did a good job. They will be a tough team to beat as the tournament proceeds.”