Chennai City FC have announced the departure of Robin Charles Raja as their head coach after a poor run of results left them languishing at the bottom of the I-League table, the latest being a 3-0 hammering handed out to them by league leaders East Bengal FC.
"The management of Chennai City Football Club would like to announce the release of Mr. Robin Charles Raja as Head coach of its Hero I-League team with immediate effect. The club wishes him all the best for his future endeavours," a club statement read.
Though Chennai City have only four points to show from seven games so far in the league, the straw that broke the camel's back is thought to be the 50-year-old coach's refusal to play local players from Tamil Nadu.
"One of the club's main philosophies going into our inaugural I-League season was to give more chances to local players from our state. However, the coach felt that the Tamil Nadu players in the squad do not have the physique and skill to perform in the I-League. We thought otherwise," said Vikram Murali, General Secretary of Chennai City FC.
Apparently, the main point of tussle was the non-selection of Raegan Albarnas in the starting eleven, a regular in Tamil Nadu's Santhosh trophy teams. It seems that the club management felt that chances should have been given to Raegan while Robin Charles Raja (who incidentally had coached Raegan in Santhosh trophy) preferred Brazilian imports Marcos Vinicius and Charles de Souza.
In fact, the coach had even flirted with the idea of playing a 4-3-3 with Raegan, Marcos and Charles starting all at once because of the management's insistence. But he did not do so as he felt that would leave his fullbacks vulnerable as the forwards were not expected to track back.
The club have already intensified their efforts to find a new head coach before their next game at home against Mumbai FC on Saturday, 11th February. Sources close to Chennai City FC have revealed that the club would ideally prefer to hire a Tamil Nadu-based coach.
Former Chennaiyin FC assistant coach Vivek Nagul and former Bengaluru FC assistant coach Pradyum Reddy are thought to be the frontrunners for the post, though a decision has not been made yet.
Assistant coach Andrew Oakley will be in charge of the team until a replacement is named.