The Chennaiyin FC head coach also revealed his unhappiness with the scheduling of the league fixtures.

Following Thursday night’s stalemate against Odisha FC, Chennaiyin FC head coach John Gregory interacted with the media in the post-match press conference.

Chennaiyin FC and Odisha FC played out a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. After what was a pretty barren first-half, Nerijus Valskis put Chennaiyin into the lead in the 51st minute but the away side restored parity through Xisco Hernández just three minutes later.

Valskis struck once again in the last 20 minutes of the game and from what looked like was going to be a Chennaiyin win was put off by Aridane Santana who had other ideas. Santana’s goal in the 82nd minute ensured that Odisha wouldn’t return home empty-handed.

“Definitely two points lost,” said John Gregory in his assessment of the game in the post-match press conference. “Two points given away actually. You know I always defend my players as much as I can. We played three days ago and we’re expected to play again and out next match against Jamshedpur has been put back to the 9th of December and then we have another on 12th, three days later,” he added.

Thoughts On ISL Fixtures

The Englishman decided to reveal more of his frustrations regarding the scheduling of ISL games. “The ISL really needs to take a really good and long hard look at themselves because the scheduling for some of the teams is embarrassing but we have to put up with it, get on with it.”

“We can’t change the rules, we can’t organise the fixtures but I think we played at least four matches this season with a three-day gap in between which asks a hell of a lot from the players,” John Gregory added.

On Chennaiyin FC Players

The Chennaiyin FC head coach also praised his players for the display against Odisha FC. “My players have to take the credit today for having played a really tough and emotional game just three days ago. The last ten or fifteen minutes in heavy rain was also tough on my team. But, you know, we often feel that we tend not to get favours done for us that some of the other clubs benefit from,” John Gregory quipped.

He also admitted Odisha’s superiority in the first half as many Chennaiyin FC players appeared to struggle. “We weren’t very good in the first half. Odisha were by far the better team in the first half. They kept the ball very well but we showed a lot of grit and determination and Nerijus took his goals very well. The first goal was an excellent team move.”

On Taking Masih Saighani Off

Masih Saighani looked out of touch for Chennaiyin and the Afghan almost gave away a goal in the eighth minute if not for the intervention of Vishal Kaith. Masih completed seven out of his ten passes in the first half and Gregory decided to bring Germanpreet Singh to replace him in the second half.

“I made a tactical switch bringing Germanpreet on who got into the game straight away and he certainly covered a lot of ground and got involved. He played very well and gave us a little bit more tempo. I thought the first half was lethargic, the boys looked unpaced and we were second to the ball in many instances but that got better when Germanpreet came on,” the 65-year-old said.

On many occasions on Thursday night, Chennaiyin FC were found guilty of senseless passes despite being in good positions to take direct advantage from. Speaking about whether it was something that frustrated him, the Englishman replied, “It’s frustrating when you know what players can do. You know what they have the ability to do when they get into certain positions and I obviously get frustrated when I know that a player in a certain situation should do better than what he does.”

“At times we can beat three players and the final ball goes to waste. We need to be very critical of ourselves in that area and it is something we can spend more time with in the training grounds,” John Gregory added.

“I always tell the players once we score, you have to switch on,” said John Gregory when speaking about his team conceding quickly having gone into the lead once again before adding, “You have to get the ball back, you have to put the opposition under pressure. Sometimes, we’re a victim of our own circumstances when we should really be more defensive minded and be more aware of danger.”

“It’s frustrating and you can only encourage it on the training ground and when we sit and watch videos and when we have team-talks and team meetings,” he concluded.