Maybe it’s time for somebody else to take over, says dejected Gregory after Bengaluru loss

Chennaiyin FC had another disappointing night in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 season, as they lost 3-0 to Bengaluru FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday. The defending champions raced to a two-goal lead courtesy Erik Paartalu and Sunil Chhetri within the first half an hour, following which Semboi Haokip struck in the 84th minute to seal his team’s first win of the season.

For Chennaiyin, the result was yet another painful loss in their long run of disappointments which seem to be a constant since last season – a campaign in which saw them finish bottom of the league. For John Gregory, in particular, the same man who guided Chennaiyin to the Hero ISL 2017-18 trophy, it has been a tumultuous 20 months or so, but Sunday’s loss seemed like the last straw. At the post-match press conference, the dejected Chennaiyin head coach opined that it may be the time for him to take a step back and reconsider his position. “I think it’s about time I sat down with the owner and had a conversation. She’s (Vita Dani) been very supportive since September 2017, but it’s probably time I sat down with her and had a deeper conversation than normal. We can’t continue like this.”

“We consider ourselves to be a very, very good club. We’re all hurting, the whole club’s hurting at the moment. And none more so than myself. I’ve carried this club on my shoulders and it’s not easy. I’ve never worked so hard in my life than I have done in the last two and a half years. It’s a heavy load and it might be time for somebody else to take over,” the Englishman added.

“So, I should have a long chat with Mrs. (Vita) Dani in the next 24 hours because in my opinion, the club always comes first. And we have to do what’s best for the club. Quite frankly, right now, this is the worst I’ve felt in two and a half years. So, I don’t particularly enjoy these moments. So, we shall see. We’ve now got a break for a couple of weeks. It will give everybody time to reflect and maybe make some improvements for the remainder of the season. Because there’s another 14 games to play. There’s still a lot to play for. But in the current situation we don’t look as if we’re likely to pick up many points in the next few games,” Gregory continued.

Stressing on the importance of the club in his life, the 65-year-old stated, “The club is really important and has been an important part of my life for the last couple of years. And it hurts me to see the situation my team is in, my club is in. I’m an adopted Chennai boy. I have been for the last couple of years. And I’m hurting like hell more than you would ever believe. And I take it all very personally. So, I don’t like to see my team in this situation at the moment. We might need to do something about it, to change things. So, we shall see.”

With respect to the changes he made in his side compared to the previous match, Gregory claimed, “I can only play five foreigners. And we’ve started Dragos (Firtulescu) in three previous game and I just needed to change my two things. Young Rahim (Ali) has been outstanding on the training ground since the start of the season. He deserved to have his chance. With (Lallianzuala) Chhangte, a bit like (Anirudh) Thapa, they are finding things a little bit difficult. He had three games in seven days recently. And both him and Thapa are quite exhausted. Sometimes they need to have a break and I think this was an ideal opportunity to just maybe keep him on the bench for an hour.”

Read the Match Report here.

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