Gregory eager to make a mark as Chennaiyin FC's manager

Chennaiyin FC parted ways with Italian Marco Materazzi after it endured a disappointing 2016 campaign, where it finished seventh on the points table.

John Gregory, Head Coach of Chennaiyin FC with Abhishek Bachchan and Vita Dani, co-owners of the team, at a Press Conference in Chennai on Friday.   -  M. Vedhan

New Chennaiyin FC manager John Gregory wants to bring success back to the Indian Super League (ISL) side. The Englishman was unveiled officially by the team's co-owners Abhishek Bachchan and Vita Dani here on Friday.

The 2015 ISL champion parted ways with Italian Marco Materazzi after it endured a disappointing 2016 campaign, where it finished seventh on the points table.

Gregory, who was the manager of the English Premier League (EPL) side Aston Villa, which was the runner-up in the FA Cup in 2000, is eager to make an impression at the Marina Arena in his first season.

"The league is growing very quickly and has a worldwide interest now. I have big shoes to fill following Marco Materazzi, who has done an amazing job here. But hopefully I can bring success to this team," he said.

Having managed many clubs across the the globe, Gregory is looking forward to his first ever ISL domestic player draft which is set to take place in Mumbai on Sunday. "We are going into the draft with an advantage of having already retained four players (Jeje Lalpekhlua, Karanjit Singh, Anirudh Thapa and Jerry Lalrinzuala). I will be working closely with Sabir Pasha (assistant coach). We have a plan and hopefully we can secure those targets," he explained.

Gregory welcomed the new rules enforced on the league where a team must add an additional domestic player to its side and offset a foreign player from its playing XI.

"The Indian players found fewer chances when they were pitted directly against a foreign player. It can be daunting for domestic players to prove themselves against them. So I am impressed with the new regulation change this year," he said.

The manager hopes that his players will give their best on the field. However, he expects his team to maintain its discipline, suggesting a move away from often witnessed skirmishes both on the pitch and off it, under Materazzi.

"I don't want them (players) to get involved with the opposition or the referees. It is hard enough to win a football match with 11 players. It is even harder with 10 or nine players," warned Gregory.

It has been suggested that the ISL and the I-League would be played simultaneously this year. This posed question marks over which Chennai side, Chennaiyin or Chennai City, would mark its territory at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

"I am glad that two leagues are operating at same time. I am sure there are enough grounds. We are talking to SDAT (Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu) on the availability and look at other options if it is (stadium) not available," said Vita Dani.

The 63-year-old previously managed Crawley Town where he stepped down due to a heart ailment in 2014. This will be his first outing in a dugout since undergoing an open-heart surgery in Januray 2015.


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