Abhishek Bachchan: New Chennaiyin hungry for success
Chennaiyin FC have been one of the most dominant outfits in the history of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) so far. The club won the title on two separate occasions (2015 and 2017-18) and stands on equal footing with ATK as the joint-most successful team in the competition. Last season, however, came as quite a shock for many as Chennaiyin finished bottom of the table after having won the title in the previous season.
Chennaiyin co-owner Abhishek Bachchan, in a recent interview with indiansuperleague.com, revealed that the team is eager to get back to winning ways and fans can expect a very 'different' Chennaiyin from the one which turned up last season. Here are the full excerpts.
Q: Thoughts on the Hero ISL season that went by and the one coming up?
A: Well, I think the Chennaiyin FC family’s thoughts on the season gone by are very well known. Obviously, not the season that we planned for, not the season that we wanted but it’s the season that was. In any sports, you have to accept the end result, pick up and move on. I’d like to believe that’s what we are trying to do. It’s in times like these when we need to have faith in the players but more importantly, have faith in the coaching staff. Both, Vita (Dani) and I have immense faith in head coach John Gregory's vision. John is very convinced that he has a point to prove and his work is still not finished at Chennaiyin FC. We, as a club, back him. So there has been, if you have been following, a huge reshuffle (in the team in terms of players coming in and leaving). There is a new direction the club is going in and it is times like these when you really need to get behind your head coach and support him and his vision. We do, and I’m excited because the only way is up now. The team is hungry. The boys have already started coming back and started getting prepped for the pre-season. So, I’m very excited. I think it is going to be a new Chennaiyin FC that we will see this (Hero ISL) season. So, I’m looking forward to it.
Q: A few words on Chennaiyin FC completing five years.
A: It’s very nostalgic. We’ve come a long way, we have a long way to go, lots to achieve. Five (Hero ISL) seasons and two cups, that's something to be proud of. There's a very long road ahead. What I am happiest about is that the current players, ex-players, they still consider themselves as a part of the Chennaiyin family. Something Vita (Dani) and I are very conscious of, no matter whether you win or lose, it is still a family and stays that way. I’m so glad that we were celebrating five years, we had wonderful messages that were sent to us (by ex-players). That means somewhere they feel for the club and the fans. I’m excited about the coming season and hopeful that our fans, who have been unbelievable, will have some good reason to cheer.
Q: Your thoughts on the Southern rivalries in the Hero ISL.
A: My thoughts on the Kerala Blasters FC fans or Bengaluru FC fans is that during those 90 minutes, you don’t like them very much but everyone at Chennaiyin FC has nothing but respect for the clubs and the fans. They are amazing fans, but I prefer my Chennaiyin FC fans a bit more. Bengaluru FC fans and Kerala Blasters FC fans are unbelievable, they are loud, and they get behind the team. They make their home ground a very intimidating place to go to and that's how it should be. I know people feel the same way when they come to Marina Arena, our fans do the same thing. That's the way football should be. They are passionate, they get behind the team, they back them and they are just fantastic. I have always said that the reception is unbelievable because you have football loving fans and that's why we play this sport. The team is for them, they make the team. It’s nice for the local teams when fans get behind them. Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC have wonderful fans. Not only them, but all around the Hero ISL, wherever you go. It's wonderful to watch.
The former champions were seriously proactive in the summer transfer window, with names like Lucian Goian, Masih Saighani, Nerijus Valskis, among others, joining the club looking to rebuild for a successful season ahead. Gregory and Co. begin their campaign away to FC Goa on October 23, followed by a tussle with Mumbai City FC four days later.