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ISL 2017: John Gregory wary of Kerala Blasters' threat ahead of clash with local rivals

7:01 PM GMT+8 21/12/2017
John Gregory Chennaiyin FC ISL 4 2017/2018
The Chennaiyin FC boss is aware of the problems Rene Meulensteen's men could pose in the match on Friday...

His team might be level on points with table toppers FC Goa and high flying Bengaluru FC but Chennaiyin head coach John Gregory is not a satisfied man.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference ahead of Friday’s clash against local rivals Kerala Blasters, the Englishman stated that he knew the importance such fixtures (derbies) play in the minds of the fans.

“I'm never satisfied. We sat and spoke to my players and I told them we should have more points. I've messed up a couple of times. But I'm delighted with the way our season has gone. Players have worked hard.

“I am looking forward to Kerala game. It is going to be tough. There are no easy games in the ISL (Indian Super League). Every match presents a different problem.

“We know it means a lot to our fans, just like last week (against Bengaluru FC). So, we're ready and prepared. We are in good condition and we have a full squad to choose from,” Gregory said.

The Chennaiyin tactician is in no doubt that the atmosphere in the stadium for Friday’s clash will be special.

“I hope it's not hostile. We are playing our local rivals. I believe last year, there were a lot of yellow jerseys in the stands for this fixture. This season, the atmosphere (in Chennai) has been amazing. The ATK game was unbelievable. You saw my celebration after our winner. That had a lot to do with atmosphere. Our fans make a lot of noise. They are supportive of the team and we've given them an opportunity to do that by scoring goal,” he said.

“It will be a great atmosphere tomorrow (Friday). Hope we can do the same here at the Marina Arena against Kerala Blasters,” he added.

Gregory also said that Kerala’s record of never having won at Chennai will have no bearing on the upcoming fixture.

“Not really, no (on Kerala’s previous record being important). We've never beaten NorthEast before this season but we kind of put that stat to bed by beating them. So, stats are there to be broken sometimes. It is not something we buy into, as a coach or a player. I only use stats when I think it gives me an advantage.”

With Kerala having won their first game in the new campaign against ATK, Gregory was wary of the threat Rene Meulensteen’s men will pose.

“It is down to me to make sure there is no complacency in our defence. We can't underestimate anybody. I've been saying ATK are in a false position in the table. They won the other night and they will be particularly strong,” he stated.

“Kerala may not have been free-scoring so far. It is irrelevant. They will work hard after their first win last week. They have suffered from injuries as well. And having got 12 points on the board, everyone seems to raise their game for us. We had to play very well against Bengaluru FC.

“We need to be on the front foot and need to be at 100 per cent,” the Englishman said to conclude.