Football teams who have had a bad season feel the need to end their campaigns on a high note. It is so badly needed not just for the players but also for the fans who have been handed one heartbreak after another throughout the season.
Kerala Blasters went into the Super Cup qualifier against Indian Arrows hoping to make an impact and aim for the trophy but massively underestimated the skillset of the U-19 developmental squad that plays in the I-League and were punished.
It took only a few minutes once the game started for the viewers to realize that the young boys were hungrier to win. The youngsters, under the tutelage Floyd Pinto, were coming on the back of an impressive season in India's top-tier league and it showed.
Blasters, who had picked up just two wins during the entire ISL season, did not have the required confidence and attitude to match their young counterparts.
Once again, a lack of creative output in the final third hurt Kerala Blasters and it has been the story of their season. They simply did not know how to find a way into the net past Jitendra Singh, Anwar Ali and an excellent Prabhsukhan Gill.
Before the season started, Slavisa Stojanovic had suggested that Indian players must learn technique. Well, it is safe to say that it is not just the Indian players who need lessons.
Many had predicted the low key signings of Stojanovic and Poplatnik to succeed after the high-profile moves bombed in the previous transfer window. It has now turned out that they are just as bad if not worse. So the first priority needs to be, once again, recruitment because David James' plans of signing players on merit than fame, though it makes sense, needs modification.
Blasters' brightest spark of the season is Sahal Abdul Samad, who is destined for great things at the international stage if he keeps working hard. He is already a part of the India U-23 setup and it won't be long before we see the Keralite boss the midfield for India. He was the only player that Arrows struggled to deal with on Friday.
Anas Edathodika's form has been on a downward graph throughout the season and it hit rock bottom when he used his hand to stop the ball at the goal line and was sent off with his team chasing the game. Sandesh Jhingan showed a will to fight but starting as a right-back, he was also beaten several times on the wings and ended up playing on the left wing in the second half as Blasters desperately searched for a route to get back into the game.
The Yellow Army looked lost. They had no idea how to approach or manage the game and it has been a similar story in most of their fixtures this season. The summer of 2019 is going to be a long one for the management.
Crucially, there is an absence of a leader on and off the pitch. Neither have the players shown the willingness to lead from the front nor have the management.