ISL 2017-18: 'We made some glaring mistakes', admits Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory
Chennaiyin FC suffered a 1-3 defeat at home to Bengaluru FC in a riveting clash in the 2017/18 season of the Indian Super League. In what was a clash of the top two sides in the points table, Chennaiyin managed to equalize after conceding early. However, their hopes were dashed in the second half where they had a player sent off and also failed to convert a penalty. The visitors capitalised and proceeded to score two more goals to seal the game.
At the post-match pressconference, Chennaiyin FC head coach John Gregory was unhappy with the way his team conceded the goals. He admitted, "Certainly wasn't a good start by us today. We caused our own problems. All three goals I think we can look at and say we made mistakes, glaring mistakes which I usually don't expect from my players. But we gave the three goals."
When Chennaiyin levelled through Francisco Fernandes’ header before halftime, it looked like they had taken control of the game in the early stages of the second half. Gregory felt his side had looked good for a win at that point in time.
He rued, “Obviously we got back at one each. A great goal by Francis brought us back to 1-1. To be honest, I really thought we were the only team going to win the game at that point."
Bengaluru however seized the initiative with a second goal from a quickly taken free-kick. When their goalkeeper Karanjit Singh failed to gather a relatively easy shot from Sunil Chhetri, Miku pounced and scored.
And a second blow came soon after when captain Henrique Sereno picked up his second yellow and was sent off putting the hosts down a man. Gregory was not too pleased with the proceedings.
He believed, "In my opinion, he's made two tackles - the first one's a yellow, the second one's a yellow. I've actually seen a number of incidents often. If my team is not playing, I'm still watching the other games on TV. I think I've watched every single game. And I've seen guys make four, five, six challenges and not pick up a yellow card. In this case, he's made two tackles and got two yellows. So I think he's very unfortunate, but at the end of the day there's nothing we can do about it."
This was Chennaiyin’s first game in about 10 days but Gregory was quick to dismiss any notions that the team lacked match fitness as a result which severely impacted their performance.
"Definitely not lacking in match fitness. You saw even with 10 men, we were going till the end. Our fitness level is first class. Sometimes these breaks come, a break obviously after winning in Kolkata. We've enjoyed the rest. Now we have a very heavy schedule in the next 16 days", said the Englishman.
Sereno’s dismissal will see him pick up an automatic one match suspension; it will be his second after he was suspended earlier for picking up four yellow cards. Asked if his temperament was something that needed controlling, Gregory replied in the negative.
“Far from it”, the veteran was quick to say. "He's been a real inspiration to everybody at our football club. He's been our captain and every week he's played like one. As a defender, you're always more likely to get more yellow cards than attackers or midfielders. As the last line of defence, he's been really outstanding. He's also been a superb captain and person. And he's been a bit unlucky as I said earlier. Obviously he misses the next game, but he'll be back for the next game, wearing the captain's armband."
He insisted that the defeat to a key rival was now an opportunity for his side to reflect on the game and think about how they want to progress from here.
"It depends how we deal with it. Certainly tonight there's a big question mark over all of us in our camp on how we deal with tonight's result. Obviously the players are not happy that we lost the game. As a coach, you have to take everything into perspective. I could go into the dressing room and start throwing cups and saucers everywhere, kicking boots at people, but it doesn't actually get you anywhere", Gregory said.
He added, "The way forward is to be composed, look at the league table tomorrow morning, maybe hope that one or two results go for us in the next few days. And make sure we get all three points in Delhi. The situation of qualifying for the playoffs is very much in our hands. So we'll pick ourselves up and wash ourselves down tomorrow morning and get ready for the next set of games."