The Marina Machans had an amazing season in this footballing calendar and the appointment of Englishmen, John Gregory has been on-point for the Southerners.
Chennaiyin FC have yet again come from the ashes to lay their hands on the prestigious Indian Super League (ISL) title. The Marina Machans have been immense in the ISL this season as they defeated Bengaluru FC 3-2 in the finals to win their 2nd title in four seasons.
The team had stars all around the pitch and never overly relied on a single or a couple of players to make things happen, which was one of their biggest strengths. The goals came from all over the pitch and it was a season that will be hard to forget for the first ever Englishmen to lift the ISL trophy.
Fact Sheet for Indian Season 2017-2018
2nd (Regular season)
Games Played: 21
Win %: 52.38%
Goals For: 3
Goals Against: 22
The new look Marina Machans travelled to Thailand for their pre-season training. John Gregory led Chennaiyin, went on a three-week training camp in Thailand where they faced Air Force Central FC, Thai Port FC, and Bangkok United FC.
The side came back from the camp with 2 losses and 1 win against Bangkok United FC and were looking forward to their first game against Sergio Lobera’s, FC Goa.
Flop of the season
Jude Nworuh : Calling the Nigerian pocket rocket a flop would be a crime but to pick a weak link in the side that won the championship is a task as hard winning the title itself. Jude never really got to showcase his full potential in front of the crowd. Having featured 10 times for the club (ISL and Super Cup), the Nigerian never really opened his goalscoring account for the Marina Machans. Even though his pace did cause problems for the defenders, the player never fully lived up to his potential.
Jude’s Performance in ISL 2017-18
Top 3 Performances
|Manager’s report card|
John Gregory came in with a dodgy reputation that an English manager would bring a boring approach to the game with his long balls but John was a bit different. He thrived on having possession of the ball and would always focus on hitting the teams on the counter-attack. One of the other weapons that he had in his arsenal was the set-pieces. Chennaiyin were potent in these and this is what propelled them to the second title.
On a scale of 1-10, John Gregory deserves an easy 9.5 for his outstanding achievement in becoming champions of the ISL. The .5 point deduction was for the team’s performance in the Super Cup which was quite disappointing as they left the competition in the first round after a penalty shoot-out defeat against Aizawl FC but after a dreamy season in the ISL, you wouldn’t dare complain.
Lessons to be learned
Chennaiyin FC have had a near-perfect season in the ISL and the hardest thing to do now is to keep this momentum going into the next season. With another competition to play in, their calendar is only going to get more cramped and the Marina Machans will need to be on top of their game to make sure that they have a chance at defending their title.
Chennaiyin FC will need to strengthen their front line and their midfield because the team’s No.9, Jeje really seemed to struggle in some of the games and adding a striker beside him would do him a whole lot of good and release some pressure of the Mizo sniper. On the whole, it was one of those seasons which went much better than the team would’ve set it out to be and come the next season, Chennaiyin FC would want to pick up where they left off.
“There was a lot expected when Chennaiyin FC announced their new manager John Gregory. It came along with the growth in fan base for the club as well. The support from us fans this season was immense both home and away. The team didn’t start well as they were beaten 2-3 at home against FC Goa but I knew something good was around the corner. He quickly turned it around in the next game. Thanks to John, Chennaiyn FC had one of the strongest defensive unit in the league with Mailson Alves and Henrique Sereno at the heart of the defence.
Dhanapal Ganesh has become some sort of a cult hero. He backed the gaffer’s trust with racking up solid performances in the midfield throughout the season and one of the standout things was that we scored most of our goals from set-pieces as Rene Mihelic and Gregory Nelson fed in delicious crosses into the box. Not to forget Jeje’s contribution up front where he not only contributed 9 goals but he also helped the team defensively and holding up the ball while the team was about to attack. It was a proper team effort throughout the season which led us to final where we defeated Bengaluru in their fortress to clinch the title.”