Owen Coyle’s return to Chennaiyin FC has already gotten fans at the edge of their seats and the head coach is also gaining ground to prepare his team ahead of a challenging 2023/24 season. Coyle, who fancies grooming and nurturing young players to his tune, has unfinished business with his former club and will intend to go a step further this time.

After Anirudh Thapa’s move to Mohun Bagan Super Giant, striker Rahim Ali remains the only player in the squad to have been called up to the national team in the Blue Tigers’ recently held international tournaments. However, given his expertise, the Scotsman is akin to taking a team to greater heights and will likely bring in reinforcements that can remodel the team to his liking.

''Obviously, I can't sit here and name names because there are players who I would love to bring to the football club. There are players at the club that I know, for example, I know Rahim, who is an outstanding player, and there are other young players who I have seen playing but I have not worked with,” Coyle stated in an interaction with PTI.

''But when I get to work with them, I will see all their qualities. Hopefully I can help. Hopefully I can improve them, as I have done in my time in Indian football,'' he added.

The head coach has a track record of improving his team’s performance, and has earned plaudits during his time at Jamshedpur FC. Deploying an attacking 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 at times, Coyle values his wingers extremely important to execute his playing style on the pitch.

''We (his teams in the ISL) have played an exciting brand of football, and we want to do that again. We want to take care of the ball. We want to have exciting players. I love my wingers, as you know,” he expressed

''I love exciting players, you know, who take people on. So, we want to build an exciting team. But to do it, it is going to take time,'' he added.

The two-time Hero ISL champions have been far off their best standards in the past, having last made it to the finals in Hero ISL 2019-20 season under Coyle, where the head coach made a miraculous turnaround half-way through the season and reached the finals. Since then, the Marina Machans have been unable to garner a spot in the playoffs.

With the comeback of Coyle, a rebuilding is underway that will put the club back to its lofty standards, but he believes it won't come easily and will require a lot of time and effort. 

''Yeah...well, the plans are very simple. We have to come in and we have to look to improve the club from a club that's made the playoffs one of the last five years, and that was the year that I came in, obviously halfway through,” he mentioned.

''So there's a lot of work to be done, but we're looking forward to working with the young Indian players to grow and develop a team that our fans can be proud of. But you're right, there's a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we're looking forward to the challenge. And of course, the challenge is to improve. The expectations are there because Chennaiyin FC have been a two-time winner before. I want to move back to those heights again.,” he added.

The Chennai-based club has been a hotbed for a number of young talents, right from Anirudh Thapa and Lallianzuala Chhangte to Samik Mitra and Aakash Sangwan. Under the stewardship of Coyle, the latter can be at the cusp of turning the club great again and be the face of a challenging team. 

''Yeah, I think there's a number of talented young players and what I will do, because whether they're young players, whether they're already throw-in players, it's a level playing field for everybody. Everybody will get the same chance, so it's up to the players then to step forward and say, yeah coach, I want to be in your plans, I want to be in that team, this is what I can do,” he said.

During his tenure at Jamshedpur FC, a lot of young talents in Boris Singh, Komal Thatal, Mobashir Rahman to name a few rose to the occasion numerous times and seized the opportunity provided to them by the Scotsman. At Chennaiyin FC, the situation will crop up again and will unearth some unknown talents.

''So everybody will get the opportunity to do that and that's what makes it exciting because I'm really looking forward to seeing those young talents, helping to grow, helping to develop them, and hopefully some of them can become the new (Anirudh) Thapa, the new (Lallianzuala) Chhangte. So this is the time now for them to step up,” he said.

''It is really important that we grow and we develop young Indian talents because if we're doing that then Indian football becomes better, the national team becomes better and everybody feels better about their level of work,” he concluded.