ISL 2018-19: 5 Things Chennaiyin FC need to do to make playoffs

CFC Coach John Gregory [Image: ISL]
CFC Coach John Gregory [Image: ISL]

Chennaiyin FC needs a miracle to qualify for the playoffs following a dire start to the season. John Gregory's men have secured just 5 points from 10 games this season. The equation for the Blues is simple. In the remaining games, they need to win all to stand a chance to enter the knockout rounds.

The reigning Champions were one of the best defensive sides last campaign, but they have conceded 19 goals from 10 games. It is no brainer that this part is one of the major reasons for the deplorable start.

Besides, the main man Jeje Lalpekhlua has been misfiring, Gregory Nelson and Raphael Augusto have been struggling to find their feet this season too. Bikramjit Singh's move to Delhi and Dhanpal Ganesh's injury meant the lack of established defensive midfielders is giving constant headache for the English manager.

In this article, we shall look at 5 things Chennaiyin FC and John Gregory should change to compete with other sides and qualify for the playoffs.

#5 Start Carlos Salom and Jeje Lalpekhlua up front

Jeje Lalpekhlua [Image: ISL]
Jeje Lalpekhlua [Image: ISL]

Strike partners Carlos Salom and Jeje Lalpekhlua have never started a game together this season. John Gregory has always used 4-2-3-1, but not an offensive formation like 4-2-2-2 till date. The above-mentioned formation could provide extra incentive for the attackers to cause trouble to opponents defence and notch up goals.

The Blues lack speed, running behind the defenders and precision in the final third, which can be sorted out by the Argentine Carlos Salom. On the other hand, there are not many people better than Jeje Lalpekhlua in holdup play who is yet to open his account for the season. It is arguable that both of them have struggled for goals, but they have not received much supply from the midfielders.

It is clearly visible that the formation which the Chennaiyin FC coach has picked is not working this season, and he might have to tweak some his tactics as fans hope for the second win of the season. It would be interesting to see how John Gregory picks his squad for the next game against Mumbai City FC.

#4 Anirudh Thapa/Thoi Singh and Gregory Nelson to play behind the strikers

Anirudh Thapa and Gregory Nelson
Anirudh Thapa and Gregory Nelson

Carrying the ball from the midfield to the attackers has been the biggest conundrum for the Blues this season. Isaac Vanmalsawma and Thoi Singh have started more often through the wings, with one of Andrea Orlandi and Raphael Augusto playing through the centre.

Albeit staying as a top scorer for Chennaiyin FC this season with 4 goals this season, Thoi Singh has failed to coalesce with either of Jeje Lalpekhlua and Carlos Salom up front. On the other hand, Gregory Nelson has started only 4 games this season. Chennaiyin FC coach was forced to make this switch because of the foreigners' rule which is forcing him to stay within limits.

Gregory Nelson has that breakneck pace which is the missing jigsaw in this attack. Additionally, he also has the tenacity to beat defenders with his nimble footwork. Anirudh Thapa has an abundance of energy and his style suits him going forward rather than cutting down the freedom by overloading him with defensive duties.

#3 Inigo Calderon/Raphael Augusto and Germanpreet Singh/Isaac to act as holding midfielders

Inigo Calderon [Image: ISL]
Inigo Calderon [Image: ISL]

It was a summer transfer window of failures for the Blues. Dhanpal Ganesh will not be returning to the action any time soon because of the knee injury he suffered. Besides, letting Bikramjit Singh join Delhi Dynamos is one of the unnecessary mistakes committed by the club. This has cut short the midfield options for John Gregory.

Germanpreet Singh, who has been with the squad since the inception of last season was supposed to step up his game. But, his failure to stamp his authority in the starting eleven and Francis Fernandes' miscarriage to adapt to the right back role has given predicament situation for Chennaiyin manager. This steamrolled Gregory to start Inigo Calderon in the holding midfield department, and the youngster Laldinliana Renthlei through the right flank of the defence.

Raphael Augusto has done well in the defensive midfield position. His strength coupled with defensive awareness should help him find his name on the teamsheet. Isaac, who has been deployed through the left wing, should be back to his original position.

#2 More mobility needed from the midfielders and attackers

Chennaiyin FC needs to play more cohesively [Image: ISL]
Chennaiyin FC needs to play more cohesively [Image: ISL]

Fans have vented their frustration repeatedly because of the flat football which is not causing any kind of trouble to the opposition. The Blues made everything count from the set pieces last season and won the games on multiple occasions in that manner. But, it has not been the same story this campaign without their salient defender Henrique Sereno.

With a slight change in the formation, the Blues should have their flow going because they have quality players in every department. Should Raphael Augusto, Gregory Nelson and Carlos Salom start, they will have the much-needed spark to cause havoc to the opposition's defence.

Jeje always finds himself in between the defenders and loses the ball when he is isolated all alone. Hence, it is necessary to have players who can provide proper support to the striker who is capable of feeding Salom should he start alongside him.

#1 Cut down the space between midfield and defence

Mailson Alves [Image: ISL]
Mailson Alves [Image: ISL]

Chennaiyin FC midfielders have struggled to support their defenders throughout this season. The lack of defensive-minded midfielders has taken a toil and the Blues have conceded 19 goals this season alone. This would be the most worrying part for John Gregory as Germanpreet Singh and Anirudh Thapa have struggled to settle in and shield the defence.

During the recently concluded game against ATK on Sunday, Jayesh Rane scored a stunner from outside the box to open the scoring. That was mainly down to the midfield being overrun and the failure of Eli Sabia to close the attacker down quickly. It is understandable that Chennaiyin concede these type of goals with no proper defence midfielders having already lost Dhanpal Ganesh through an injury.

However, someone is got to take the responsibility and fight to steer Chennaiyin FC into the playoffs. This is another limbo which should be noticed by John Gregory.

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Edited by Raunak J
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