ISL 2019-20: Gregory keen on Chennaiyin turnaround after dismal last season

The club has drafted in six new players, with a proven track record, from abroad, and has several promising youngsters in Thapa, Lalrinzuala, and Germanpreet Singh.

Chennaiyin FC Coach John Gregory is looking forward to a season of redemption.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Coach John Gregory cut a sorry figure at the end of last season’s harrowing ISL campaign for Chennaiyin FC, when his contract was nearing its end. Despite his team finishing last on the points table, with the lowest points registered in the competition’s history, the club’s co-owner, Vita Dani, convinced the English coach to stick on and revive the fortunes of the two-time champion.

Chennaiyin has several promising youngsters in Anirudh Thapa, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Germanpreet Singh and Laldinliana Renthlei, and Gregory admitted that he had come to rely on them more than he would have liked to last year.

The club has drafted in six new players, with a proven track record, from abroad. Gregory expects Brazilian Rafael Crivellaro to form an exciting central midfield partnership with India international Thapa while forwards Nerijus Valskis and Andre Schembri have plundered goals during the pre-season games held in Ahmedabad and Jamshedpur.

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Lucian Goian has joined the centre-back fold after a three-year spell at Mumbai City FC. His job is to ensure that Chennaiyin doesn’t concede something like the 32 goals that it did in the league last season.

On the domestic front, Chennaiyin has brought in exciting youngsters in Lallianzuala Chhangte (winger) and Vishal Kaith (goalkeeper). Right-back Edwin Sydney Vanspaul has made the switchover from the I-League after a title-winning season at Chennai City FC.

“We as a team are not expecting to not repeat what we did last season. We have set a platform of two trophies in five seasons for us, so we can’t drop below that standard,” says Thapa.

With several match-winners across the pitch, Chennaiyin offers the promise of challenging for the top honours again.

We can’t change what’s happened in the past. I don’t look at it — finishing 10th — as a failure; it was a huge lesson for us. But we won’t go back there again and allow it to happen.

— John Gregory, coach


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