ISL 2019-20: John Gregory - ISL scheduling is horrendous

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Chennaiyin FC
The former Aston Villa boss expressed his disappointment over the scheduling of ISL fixtures…

Chennaiyin FC threw away their lead twice in the game as they allowed Odisha FC to pick a point with the scoreline reading 2-2. Coach John Gregory was disappointed in the manner in which they conceded but also pointed fingers at the Indian Super League (ISL) fixtures.

The English coach criticized the cramped schedule of the ISL which doesn’t allow his team to get enough rest between games.

“Definitely two points given away actually. We got four points from these two home games. But we could’ve gone to the seventh spot if we had hung on. We played just three days ago and we were expected to play again. Our next game is on 9th and then we have another game on 12th. 

“It does not even out in the end. I’ve looked at the entire schedule. We play two games in three days four times in the season. Not many clubs have that situation. I don’t want two weeks off in between games. I want even spacing between the games. The two weeks off does not do us any good. The scheduling is horrendous. We played three games in seven days at the start. That’s ridiculous. Somebody in the ISL does not like us very much,” he made a sarcastic remark.

He also voiced his concern over poor refereeing as Nerijus Valskis was fouled inside the box by Narayan Das but neither a penalty nor was the player being sent-off.

“ISL needs to really take a good long look at it. Some of the scheduling for some clubs is embarrassing. But we have to go on and get on with it. You are asking a hell of a lot from the players in such a situation. Having played three days ago, which was tough and emotional, tonight it was tough on my players especially towards the end in the rain.

“Yes, Odisha also played a game four days ago. We tend to not get favours but other clubs do. The Valskis incident looked a nailed on penalty and a red card. It would have given us a result we deserved,” he shared his thoughts.

Chennaiyin vs Odisha

He acknowledged that Odisha played better in the opening 45 minutes but it was his side which dominated the proceedings after the break.

“Odisha played well in the first half agreed. But we showed grit and determination in the second to score our goals. Nerijus seems to be up and running now and scoring for fun. I made a tactical switch at half-time. Germanpreet (Singh) got on and got stuck into the game. He gave us a little bit more tempo.

“We were lethargic in the first half. Lot of our players looked a bit one-paced in the first half. But it got better when Germanpreet came on. He gave us some balance in midfield,” he explained.

Gregory also spoke on the need for players to improve their decision-making as often they tend to get into good positions but end up choosing the wrong option.

“A lot of good passes for the goals. Thoi (Singh) did particularly well in that move. It was frustrating to see us get into good positions and then fail to convert chances. It is also frustrating to see players, who I know can do better, waste chances after working so hard to get into good goalscoring positions. We need to be critical about ourselves in that area. 

“There was some poor defending from us and we gave away cheap goals. The captain (Lucian Goian) did well. He led by example. But he tries to do a little bit too much at times. He wants to be centre-back, left-back and central midfielder at times. But he did well.”

Gregory was questioned on how his side concede goals after taking the lead to which he replied stating that it was a psychological thing.

“It’s a mental thing (conceding goals immediately after scoring). Once you score you have to switch on and get the ball back. We are a victim of our own circumstances. Sometimes we need to be more defensive and aware of the danger. It is a mental thing. I find that a lot in India. Not just here but many other clubs.

“We can only try to educate the lads in training. Few of our boys were really tired. We were punished for being a bit too lax today. We didn’t close down the space during the move for Odisha’s second goal. It was a frustrating day for us but I’m happy that we scored again. We need to shut that door once we get ahead,” he spoke on which areas his side needs to improve upon.