Chennaiyin succumbed to their fifth Indian Super League loss of the season, losing 1-0 to Mumbai City at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai, and head coach John Gregory feels the visitors had no right going away with maximum points.
“When you start the season, firstly you’ll look to secure your first win,” he said, when asked if his players have developed a mental block as a result of their winless run. “It doesn’t always come in the first game. The first win always gets everybody going, boosting their confidence. We’ve been thinking this would be our game since the first game, and it’s dragged on until now.
“Few players have been playing with a lack of confidence. Some are nervous playing here at home. Some are not playing as good as they can do, but the effort is always there, no matter what happens. It’s the fourth game we’ve lost by an odd goal. Today represented a great opportunity as we had a lot of ball. We had a couple of chances, but we didn’t take them. Mumbai had no right to go home with all three points.”
The Englishman benched last season’s regulars Jeje Lalpekhlua, Mailson Alves and Gregory Nelson again, starting Carlos Salom, Inigo Calderon and Andrea Orlandi instead. While the fans have been questioning his team selection, he reckons a change of personnel isn’t the solution to their misery.
“It’s always easy to change personnel, but I don’t think that’s the answer,” he said. “We totally dominated, from the first whistle to the final whistle. I think they only had one chance in the first half and two in the second, when we were trying to find an equalizer. Our effort was first-class. We held on to the ball for extended periods of time, but we didn’t create many opportunities to score. Very rarely did they get into our defending half. They had one shot in the first half, and it ended up in the net. We don’t seem to be getting such chances, and it needs to change sooner rather than later.”
While Anirudh Thapa and Raphael Augusto both had decent outings in the middle of the park, the team again sorely missed Dhanpal Ganesh. It was earlier believed he’d return after five games, but it seems he still is far from complete recovery. He admitted underestimating the influence of the local boy and Henrique Sereno.
“I wish [he would return for the next game], but he won’t be back,” he revealed. “He’s been a big miss. I probably underestimated the job he does for us. I thought we could cope without him. I was hoping we wouldn’t miss him quite as much. I thought we wouldn’t miss [Henrique] Sereno quite as much as well. They’re a big loss to the rest of the team. In games like today’s, with them, we wouldn’t have conceded and would have won 1-0 or 2-0. We need to cope without them. We need to get ourselves in a decent position for when he comes back.”
The loss keeps Chennai rooted to the bottom of the league standings, and he says he’d rather take draws at this point. “We look at the table and say no one gets away from anybody else. This is what we keep pacifying ourselves with. As we speak, there have been a lot of draws, getting just one point, and I’d love to be one of those teams.”
Chennai don’t have a lot of time to reflect on their performance, though, as they face second-bottom club Pune City on November 6 at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex.Published 04 Nov 2018, 02:15 IST