John Gregory admits Goa were the better side as Chennaiyin FC lose 3-1
In the clash of contrasting ideologies, John Gregory’s ideology proved rather ineffective, as Sergio Lobera’s attack-dominant FC Goa side thrashed Chennaiyin FC 3-1 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai.
The soft-spoken English manager admitted his side were the second best side on Saturday night although he claimed his players reduced the visitors to few chances. “We weren’t quite sharp defensively as we’ve been,” he said. “The three goals could have been avoided, but I always take responsibility for the outcome except when we win. We weren’t just as good as Goa were. Goa played really well, especially in the first 15 minutes. They dominated the game for long stretches.
“For some reason, we couldn’t stay in the game, and it was due to the set-up I put out. It’s possibly the wrong shape, so I’ve to look at myself, obviously.
“The took their opportunities well. Karanjit [Singh] didn’t have a great deal to do in the first half, perhaps other than picking the ball out of his net, after about 20 minutes. They had a lot of possession but hadn’t created too much. We looked pretty much in control at the back, and we just fell asleep when they scored the second goal.
“When it was 2-0 down, we had a mountain to climb. I tried to claw something back by making a couple of changes, but we couldn’t get the first goal until it was too late.”
Chennai lost their opening game 1-0 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, a venue where they’d had a 100 win record. They now sit ninth, only above ATK. However, he refuses to panic. “You saw us against Bengaluru last week,” he said. “They’re one of the most prolific teams. We kept them very quiet; we kept Sunil [Chhetri] and Miku quiet. Defensively I thought we did great last week. I was very pleased from a defensive point of view. Tonight, though, we allowed them to control the game, and I don’t think it was entirely down to members of the back four.”
The 64-year-old gaffer says the team’s objective hasn’t changed despite their losing both their opening games. He hopes his team morale stays high and their facing NorthEast next helps them turn their season around like it did last season.
“The pressure is mine,” he stated. “I’m the leader. It’s down to me to prepare the team, get results and make sure we win every week. We’ve unfortunately lost two games in a trot. It doesn’t change our objective. Our objective is to get to playoffs no matter how and what it takes to get there. We now just need to get the first point on the board.
“It’s tough. It’s a time when the players have to stay close to each other as a group. We had the same feeling after our first game last year. It really was a tough week until we played NorthEast, so I hope the fact that we play NorthEast next is a good omen for us.”
Chennai face NorthEast next at home and have over 10 days to prepare for the potentially season-defining fixture.