Gregory Gets It Right As Chennaiyin Make It Two Titles In Three Years

Talking Points Indian Super League

You should have heard by now. John Gregory became the first English manager to win the ISL when his Chennaiyin side came from a goal behind to beat Bengaluru 3-2 on Saturday. The post-match press conferences understandably were a little bit longer than what they normally are, so we’ll have this to have a look at what Gregory said and then another to see what Roca in the opposing dugout thought of the game.

The Season Has Been A Big Success

“When you go in at half-time and you are just taking the lead having been 1-0 behind, as a coach if you are losing, you know you got to score two.

“Big man (Alves) scored two goals this season in 20 games. But those two, he couldn’t have placed them any better. It certainly gave us a huge advantage. I have been on the opposite side, and it really deflates you.”

Mailson scored two powerful headers as Chennai responded in the best possible way to Chhetri’s diving header, the timing which Gregory alluded to was particularly important.  Mailson’s second came right on the stroke of halftime and it undoubtedly changed the content of the team talks which took place during the interval.

“I basically told players to keep a clean sheet in the second half, simple as that. The third goal helped us to relax a bit more. We could have made it even better than 3-1. I believe the season has been a big success,”

While they may not have kept a clean sheet in the second half due to Miku’s late consolation goal, they defended resolutely and thoroughly deserved the win. However, Gregory paid credit to his opposing number;

“Albert (Roca) changed his line-up. Chhetri played a bit closer to Miku. They made it difficult for us as (Gregory) Nelson and Francis (Fernandes) were playing in their own half. We just stuck to our game plan and trust me, that is hard work. They tried an all-out attack from the first minute but the players that we have, we will always get our chance. The likes of Nelson and Fernandes are good going forward.

“We showed a lot of balls today to come back and win. We tend to not allow anything to get to us. To come and play here in their home ground was a big obstacle. The players are just an incredible bunch of players,”

Chennaiyin Win In Bengaluru AGAIN

What the result also meant was, Chennaiyin had beaten Bengaluru twice in their own backyard this season and truth be told, Gregory has got Roca sussed. Could it have gone another way had Chhetri not missed that glaring opportunity at 3-1? Of course, it could, but Chennai got the job done. The former Derby County manager mentions Gregory Nelson and Francis Fernandes there who have been pivotal throughout their campaign there, he then turns his attention to his very own captain marvel, Henrique Sereno…

“Sereno had an injury at the start of second half and he just kept going, he has been amazing, he has played a real captain’s role.We knew there were a good team and we just had to be alive all the time,”

Sereno’s partnership with Mailson has been immense all season long and Gregory will be hoping he can keep the pair of them together as they look to retain their crown next year. One other player that Gregory is hoping he can convince to say for another year is the influential ex-Brighton man Inigo Calderon. He prevented John Johnson from scoring with a sensational defensive header and he’s been an integral part of Chennaiyin’s success.

“He has been everything I wanted him to be and more. I knew more about him than any other player in my squad because of his history at one of my former clubs Brighton and Hove Albion. He wants to be the best trainer. He will take on board that gives an extra percent of fitness. Whatever he can take that’s legal, he will take it – his diet, his fluid intake. He wants to give himself every chance.

“I think he got the fittest player of the season award, I am sure he is happy to get it. Getting that award and that gold medal will be something that will make him want to stay for another 12 years. I hope we can convince to give us one more year,”

Calderon Rolls Back The Years

That was how Gregory finished his media duties and one can only hope that Calderon does stick around for another year as he motors around the pitch like a sixteen-year-old. Believe it or not, he turned thirty-six in January. What a season for Chennaiyin, Gregory, Calderon and everyone else involved with the club.

Attention now turns to the Super Cup where Chennaiyin entertain Aizawl and Gregory commented that he will be making changes to the starting XI for that, so it’ll be interesting to see how strong the side is. That is on the 31st of March which is the opening game of the Super Cup ‘proper’, so we’ll next see Gregory & Co then. You’ll be seeing me much sooner than that!

Until the next time.

About the Author

Jake Flock
Football and writing are my two biggest passions, so seems right to combine the pair, don't you think?