The fallen castle of Chennaiyin
Yet another disastrous Indian Super League campaign for the Blue Machans as they once again failed to thrive themselves to the semifinal stage. The Chennaiyin side hasn’t picked themselves up ever since the departure of Scottish ‘macho-man’ Owen Coyle.
Chennaiyin began their season preparations by sacking Csaba László and replacing him with the Yugoslavian head coach Božidar Bandović. Although the managerial change couldn’t deliver the results and the former Olympiacos manager’s contract was terminated midway during the ongoing ISL season with the local Tamilian gaffer Syed Sabir Pasha given the interim responsibilities to finish the 2021-22 ISL season.
Coincidentally, Chennai’s previous ISL campaign was also concluded on the eighth position with 20 points from 20 games. The Marina Machans registered five-five wins and draws while also suffering from 10 defeats throughout the Season 8 journey. They were just a single point ahead of the traditional rivals FC Goa side who finished in ninth place.
Rafael Crivellaro has been the most influential and consistent performer for Chennai since his arrival at the club. Chennaiyin mutually parted ways with him halfway as the attacking midfielder was unable to complete the season due to injury concerns. In the absence of this Brazilian playmaker, Machans found their new magician in the form of Vladimir Koman who was unarguably their player of the season.
The Hungarian playmaker made a goal contribution of four consisting of three goals and one assist in his debut season on Indian soil. Koman operated as a lone warrior in the attacking third of his side and fell short of support from his teammates.
Youngsters were on the rise!
Rahim Ali contributed two goals and two assists in his third season at Marina Machans. The 21-year-old forward will soon become a regular member of the national setup if his improvement graph stays high.
Ninthoinganba Meetei was another Chennaiyin youngster who showcased a breakthrough performance in the 2021-22 season. He has received wide praises from the ISL universe for technical compatibility and game smartness. The 20-year-old Manipuri midfielder has the right potential to become Chennaiyin’s next Anirudh Thapa.
What went wrong?
A goal-scoring flare was totally missed in the ranks of Machans. And the prime reason behind the goal deficiency was Nerijus Valskis who had a disastrous individual outing. The Lithuanian striker could score only four goals from 17 appearances on his return to the Blues.
Coach Bandović also underestimated the domestic talent pool hence was seen hesitated to give pivotal roles in the lineup to them. At one point, Chennaiyin was stuck in a swamp of failures and seemed clueless about making a comeback from that position.
Takeaways from the season
Chennaiyin’s pre-season camp had an impressive effect as the side kick-started their campaign by claiming maximum points against NorthEast United and table-toppers Hyderabad. They’re also among only three teams who were able to stand still against the storm of Jamshedpur.
They had the potential to take down the giants of ISL Season 8 but unfortunately, the roster was not capable enough to replicate it in every fixture.
Up for the next
Chennaiyin is known for its dominance in the ISL but the Tamil Nadu-based club has lost its charm. The management will have to accept the fact that they are going nowhere with the current system and the major changes are much-needed. An overhaul of squad and management is expected as the two-time champions will leave no stone unturned to be back in form.