John Gregory saw his Chennaiyin FC outfit fall to their fifth defeat in six matches of the Indian Super League (ISL) season as Mumbai City FC ran out 1-0 victors over the defending champions on Saturday.
The English head coach has been accused of a lack of rotation in Chennaiyin’s dreadful run but he refused to put down the side’s latest loss on his tendency to start with the same group of core players. Instead, Gregory rued Chennaiyin’s luck in a match he thought his side had dominated.
“Its always easy to change personnel, but I don’t think that’s the answer. We totally dominated, from the first whistle to last whistle. I think they had two chances in the second half, when we were trying to find an equalizer. The effort was first-class. We held on to the ball for extended periods of time. We didn’t create many opportunities to score,” he stated after the game.
“Very rarely did they go into our defending half. We had one shot in the first half, and it ended up in the net. We don’t seem to be getting such chances, and it needs to change sooner rather than later.”
The title defence has not gone to plan so far for Gregory and his men who are yet to register a single victory six matches into their league campaign. The Englishman admitted some of his players were being hampered by a lack of confidence following the team’s dismal run.
“When you start the season, firstly you want your first win. It doesn’t always come in the first game. It gets everybody going, boosting everyone’s confidence. We’ve been thinking this would be our game since the first game, and it’s dragged on now. Few players have been playing with a lack of confidence. Some are nervous playing here at home and are not playing as good as they can do, but the effort is always there, no matter what happens,” Gregory explained.
“It’s the fourth game we’ve lost by an odd goal. Today represented a great opportunity as we had a lot of ball. We had a couple of chances, but we didn’t take them. Mumbai have no right to go home with three points,” he continued.
When asked if he would have loved to have a fit and firing Dhanpal Ganesh in the side currently, Gregory replied: “I wish, but he won’t be back, He’s been a big miss to us. I probably underestimated the fact that we could cope without him. The job that he does for us.”
“I was hoping we wouldn’t miss him quite as much. I thought we wouldn’t miss (Henrique) Sereno quite as much as well. They’re a big loss to the rest of the team. Games like this today, with them, we wouldn’t have conceded and would have won 1-0 or 2-0. We need to cope without them. We need to get ourselves in a decent position for when he (Ganesh) comes back.”
Despite Chennaiyin being rooted to the bottom of the table, Gregory took heart from the fact that no team has been able to pull away in the league table just yet.
“This is what we keep pacifying ourselves with. We look at the table and say no one gets to. Bengaluru FC didn’t get away from anybody (last season) until the final few matches, which saw them go on a winning run to be eight points clear. A lot of draws. I’d love to be one of those teams,” the Englishman concluded.