Chennaiyin FC will look to overturn their fortunes this season after what was a forgettable affair last year where they couldn’t qualify for the knockout stages.
John Gregory has replaced Marco Materazzi and the Englishman has affirmed that his coaching philosophy and style of play will certainly be different than what the former Inter Milan centre-back professed.
“I have a tough act follow of Marco Materazzi who did an amazing job. He has left a big legacy for me to try and live up to. Fortunately, being English, a lot of the domestic players speak good English. One or two that don’t but I have other players in the side who can communicate on my behalf. Mailson (Alves) and Raphael (Augusto) speak Portuguese and little bit of English. So sometimes I have problems communicating with them. Henrique (Sereno) speaks very good English and he helps my interpreter with the Brazilian boys.
“Sometimes I have to repeat myself to make the boys do what I want. I am very strict about being punctual. It may seem a trivial subject but I am strict about it. I don’t know what Marco used to but my ideas will be different from him and the players need to adapt to my new regime. It is not easy; it does take some weeks but now after seven weeks so I cannot give excuses. The boys have picked up things pretty well,” said the 63-year-old.
Chennaiyin conceded a lot of goals last year and Gregory is concerned that it is important for young players to understand how to finish a game if you have the lead.
“I have seen a lot of good football here, a lot of good matches, I have seen some matches including the 2015 final when we conceded a goal in the 88th minute. In any other match that would have been over but we scored two goals and won the final. It was a little message there that the game is not over until it’s over.”
“Last year against Goa we conceded late goals to lose 4-3 after leading 2-0. That is something which the boys must understand especially the local boys. If you are leading 1-0 then you must know how to end the game properly. The domestic boys maybe in a hurry to score goals, that is not necessary. These little things I hope I can bring in the team to make us a little better,” he shared his thoughts.
The former Aston Villa manager wants more young Indian players to make the cut and be a part of his starting eleven as opposed to making mere substitute appearances towards the end of the match.
“You know the duration of head coach in England is very short except for a few clubs. And when you first come into a job, you have anticipation of staying for four or five years. We all come here with high expectations. I have come here with one of the ideas to try and develop our domestic players. We have three very young players in the squad.
“We want to bring them to main squad so that they get regular game time and to do that they need to improve each year. They must be on the pitch and not just for two minutes, but actually starting games. We have to start six domestic players and so the opportunity for them got bigger. So if the Indian players have common sense they would give their best shot.”
Gregory was questioned as to what are the lessons he has learnt from former Kerala Blasters coach and fellow Englishman Steve Coppell who successfully managed to take them to the finals in 2016.
“He lost first two games but finally played in the final. That’s the biggest lesson I think. Stay calm. I think he is a very studious guy. He pays a lot of attention to checking out the opposition. He is very thorough in the ways he prepares for matches. I have a sports scientist (Niall Clark) with me who worked in Kerala last season he told me how Steve went last year and why he has success.
“Because he is very calm, he doesn’t get too agitated and his preparation with his players his first class. You need to be patient with the domestic players. I think that is something which Steve did last year.”
Chennaiyin FC host FC Goa on the 19th of this month at the Marina Arena in what promises to be an exciting game.