What a difference less than a week makes in ISL football, right? At half-time in their first match, I for one was doubting John Gregory and Chennaiyin’s hopes for the season. After NorthEast United drew 0-0 with Jamshedpur FC the stats suggested they were a much better side than the result had suggested. Stats and football, eh? They never tell the full story!
Here are 5 things we learned from yesterday’s clash.
#1 John Gregory deserves praise for admitting his mistakes
John Gregory admitted that Chennaiyin’s first-half performance against FC Goa was his fault and the changes he made at half time saw his side score twice and get back into the match. Add a further three goals over 90 minutes yesterday and Chennaiyin suddenly look like a completely different proposition. Gregory was a happy man after the match, saying
“I probably took more pleasure from not conceding today. It was a great result. But we need to keep clean sheets every week. The best teams who do this are teams who keep clean sheets. Defensively, our boys were brilliant”.
#2 NorthEast United need goals, and fast!
Once again NorthEast controlled the game for long periods, but once again they failed to deliver an end product. Joao de Deus was adamant before the match that NorthEast would be the league’s top scorers but they looked like being anything but in Chennai. de Deus said after the game,
“I continue to believe that my team will have the topscorer. I’m not going to change my opinion because I’m the one who is working with my boys. It is easy for you to say that but today, we had good chances to score. The problem is when you don’t create opportunities. But we created opportunities today and it was unfortunate we did not score today”.
I’ll be interested to go back to my stats pack after at some point and see if NorthEast replicated their opening day performance in terms of chances created because watching the game it did not feel like it.
#3 Joao de Deus does get something right
The NorthEast United Head Coach was right in one observation – his team lacked concentration at key moments and it cost them.
” We lost because theopponents scored three times and we didn’t score. We lacked concentration through the match. What can you say when you concede the goals like this. The first one, i dont want to speak about. And the third goal was also a poor one and we should not have conceded.”
#4 Chennaiyin must stay with this shape to get the best out of Raphael Augusto
It would be foolish of Gregory to revert back to the horror show of three at the back and he must now continue with the 433 shape that has served them well for the last game and a half. The midfield trio of Dhanpal Ganesh, Bikramjit Singh and Raphael Augusto are vital to this system and the defensive stability behind them with a four allows these three to control the game, particularly the Brazilian Augusto. He was allowed to roam free and push forward with the protection of his midfield partners. Considering he was only 85% fit for the match, there is more to come from Chennaiyin’s main man.
#5 Chennaiyin fans were right to be unhappy
One of the finest things about ISL is the quality of the atmosphere inside each ground. The colour, the noise, the flags. So, for stadium officials to ban the banners that fans of Chennaiyin FC had spent hours creating is downright poor form. Let them enjoy themselves, it is one of the reasons why we are watching the league from afar!