Chennaiyin FC have rekindled their spirits after re-signing Owen Coyle as their head coach.

A prominent figure for the Marina Machans, Coyle inspired a miraculous turnaround that saw the side — who were struggling in the lower half of the table — punch above their weight and reach the final in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2019-20 season.

After his departure from CFC in 2020, Coyle moved to Jamshedpur FC. He achieved his first silverware in the Hero ISL as he guided the Red Miners to the Hero ISL League Winners’ Shield in just his second season with the club.

With a knack for developing and grooming players to his tune of the game, Coyle is a specialist when it comes to scouting the right kind of players that can not just adapt to his playing style but also immensely benefit and develop from it.

Two-time Hero ISL champions, Chennaiyin FC, have fared below par in the recent past, having failed to make it past the playoffs ever since Coyle left them for Jamshedpur FC after the 2019-20 season.

With a proven track record of reaching new highs with every club that he’s been a part of, the Scotman’s experience and tactical nous might just be the missing piece that could hopefully end Chennaiyin FC’s seven-year wait for a trophy.

As Chennaiyin FC welcome the homecoming of Coyle, let us take a look at what challenges he faces at the club.

Bringing in reinforcements

Chennaiyin FC have let go of as many as 11 first team players from last season so far with Anirudh Thapa, Abdenasser El Khayati, Petar Sliskovic, Julius Duker and Fallou Diagne among the notable departures.

These players formed the core of the team last season under former head coach Thomas Brdaric and Coyle has a big task in hand as he tries to find suitable replacements and build a squad that can compete for top honours.

Chennayin FC have already made some promising signings in the ongoing transfer window, bringing in the likes of Jordan Murray and Farukh Chowdhary, two players who previously worked under Coyle at Jamshedpur FC. Coyle will not only have to recruit players that fit into his system but also help them settle at a club with high expectations and pressure.

Finding a replacement for Thapa

Replacing a player of Thapa’s ilk, who has now moved to Mohun Bagan Super Giant, will perhaps be the most daunting challenge for Coyle at Chennaiyin FC. The Dehradun-born midfielder was in sizzling form for Chennaiyin FC back during the Hero ISL 2019-20 season, contributing a goal and six assists under Coyle that campaign — his best-ever Hero ISL season in terms of goal contributions.

Also Read - Anirudh Thapa at Chennaiyin FC: From super sub to captain cool

Thapa represented Chennaiyin FC across seven Hero ISL seasons, making 103 appearances in the league. His consistent performances saw him being awarded with club captaincy in 2021.

Chennaiyin FC have not only lost a player with experience and leadership, but also someone capable of playing in multiple roles as and when required. While Thapa’s void will be sorely missed, it opens up the door for someone else to step up and stake a claim in the starting eleven. With plenty of talented Indian midfielders in Chennaiyin FC’s set up, it remains to be seen who ultimately fills in for Thapa.

Rebuilding team morale

The past few seasons have not gone according to plan for Chennaiyin FC. In the past three seasons running, CFC have changed as many as three head coaches, but have endured an eighth-place finish in the league standings.

Chennaiyin FC have witnessed an influx of signings and departures during this time, with the side struggling for stability and consistency with each passing season. In Coyle, they have got the right man to address that problem, who has spent three seasons in the Hero ISL.

During his time in India, Coyle not only got the best out of his players, but also created his team playing fearlessly and to their strengths. Producing a positive team culture and instilling a winning mentality will be key as Coyle looks to take Chennaiyin FC back to greater heights.