The German represented top German clubs as a player and also has credible coaching experience.

After many weeks of rumours and speculations, Chennaiyin FC, two-time ISL champions, have turned to the German Thomas Brdaric as their next head coach. The Marina Machans have been living their life from one coach to another. Brdaric is the sixth coach in five seasons since Chennaiyin FC’s second title triumph in 2017-18. The club have made it to the playoffs only once since then.

Chennaiyin FC have also been the lowest-scoring side in the league for the last two seasons. Therefore, they need to sort everything out on the goalscoring side. Hence, they have put their faith in Brdaric. The German coach has his work cut out in arguably his toughest assignment so far.

But who is Thomas Brdaric and how capable enough is he for the challenge in the ISL with Chennaiyin FC? Let’s find out by having a detailed look at his career and playing style.

Career

Brdaric played the entirety of his career in his homeland. He represented some top teams in the Bundesliga including Bayer Leverkusen, Hannover 96, VfL Wolfsburg and VfB Stuttgart.

Brdaric plied his trade as a forward and scored 102 goals in 342 professional appearances. He also made eight appearances for the German national team including a solitary substitute appearance in the 2004 European Championship. He scored his only international goal in a friendly against Iran later that year. Thomas Brdaric was also an unused substitute in the 2005 Confederations Cup.

Thomas Brdaric
Brdaric finished as runner-up in UEFA Champions League 2001-02 with Bayer Leverkusen (Courtesy: Instagram/@thomasbrdaric)

Although he didn’t find success as a player, he definitely has as a manager. The German has managed teams in the lower divisions of Germany including the B team of Wolfsburg. The former German forward last managed Albanian club Vllaznia Shkoder. He led them to a 2nd and 5th place finish and won back-to-back Albanian Cups in his two-year stint at the club.

The German averages 1.89 points/game across all his managerial stints so far which would be ideal in the Indian Super League. Therefore, he will look to translate his success model at Chennaiyin FC who are in dire need of some inspiration.

Tactics

Brdaric is typically expected to play an attacking 4-2-3-1 system. The four is expected to be flat like a traditional back four with the midfielders doing a lot of the heavy lifting. His system is also expected to be a possession-oriented system. If Brdaric implements the same, it would be a welcome change from the reactive tactics of Bozidar Bandovic and Csaba Laszlo.

The midfield could also shape into a diamond adding a central attacking midfielder or second striker to the fold. Coming from the German school of coaching, one can expect high-energy pressing and attempts to quickly regain possession from Chennaiyin FC. This was reminiscent of a few games of Bengaluru FC under their former head coach Marco Pezzaiouli.

Chennaiyin FC coach Thomas Brdaric
Brdaric last coached Albanian club Vllaznia Shkoder (Courtesy: Instagram/@thomasbrdaric)

As a forward himself, Brdaric will be looking to tweak his play in a way that is conducive to the players that he has. Chennaiyin FC have not been a very possession-oriented team. But they do have players who are capable of carrying the ball deep into the opposition half.

Therefore, he can also bring in a direct style of football. This would be quicker and more incisive similar to how the team played under Owen Coyle in the 2019-20 season.

Things to watch out for

Chennaiyin FC have been through seven coaches in the ISL so far. They have played under different coaches with different styles. Therefore, the club needs to work on restoring some stability and vision into the club.

The club and the management need to start preparing early for the next season. They have already signed some great prospects in Bengal Santosh Trophy captain Monotosh Chakladar and Vincy Barreto from Kerala Blasters.

They also signed Sourav Das and Mohammad Rafique who previously played for East Bengal and Gurmukh Singh from Rajasthan United. The club need to work with their coach to ensure that they get players who will fit his vision, tactics and playing style hand-in-glove.

Chennaiyin FC still have a lot of gaping holes in the team. The club need to sign the right set of foreigners who possess experience and the commitment to play for the club. It would be interesting to witness how Brdaric utilises the star duo of Rafael Crivellaro and Anirudh Thapa, who extended their contracts with the club. The duo will no doubt be the heart of this side.

Chennaiyin FC have a good young group of players who possess the hunger and desire to win games for the club. Earlier, under Bozidar Bandovic and Laszlo, the club always seem to play with a certain hindrance and fear. That needs to change under Thomas Brdaric, who needs to instill confidence in his side and make them play on the front foot.

The club need to exercise patience and properly restructure itself and have a clear idea and blueprint of where they want to be as a club. Backing Brdaric and letting him implement his ideas and giving time could be a good first step in that direction.

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