Super Machans Rediscover Style: Chennaiyin FC 3 vs. 0 NorthEast United FC

Chennaiyin FC Back on Track; NorthEast United Back to the Drawing Board

You folks have no idea how wonderfully justified I feel with this result. I’ve always maintained that Gregory Nelson is one of the signings of the season across the Indian Super League. After his performance in yesterday’s game, I feel thoroughly pleased with myself. He was glorious even though he wasn’t the best on the pitch.

In case you missed the game, NorthEast United FC were mauled by the Super Machans three goals to nought. It was one of the most one sided games I’ve seen in my life. The Highlanders all did everything but default the game. They may have done better had they defaulted. At least their confidence wouldn’t be smithereens.

How Chennaiyin Played

Chennaiyin recovered well from their tactical faux-pas of last game against FC Goa. Gregory had made two tactical errors in that game. The first was to play Rene Mihelic in the starting eleven with Raphael August and the other was to play wide wing style of game with Jeje in the middle.

Both those errors were fixed in this game but not how I had envisioned the fixes. Goes to show that training ground insight is far more important than television viewing; a lot of football fans would benefit from that little tidbit of wisdom. How did Gregory fix those errors?

The first one was fixed by replacing Mihelic with Gregory Nelson. Nelson’s wing play bamboozled NorthEast United defenders every time he had the ball. It is no secret that I like this guy so I feel very happy that he did so well.

The other tactical error was corrected by injecting a defensive Indian central midfielder and pushing Raphael Augusto forward into the attacking midfielder role. Augusto has height on him so he can be a threat on crosses. He didn’t need to be much of a threat with his head, though. Instead, he combined well with Augusto. I want to see this partnership more.

It is also worth pointing out that Gregory kept his defence together which meant that Inigo Calderon continued in his right back position. By not changing his defence around, Gregory showed them the mythical managerial faith. It worked too because Chennaiyin kept a clean sheet with Calderon particularly in imperial form.

How NorthEast United Played

Oh, NorthEast United. You’ve actually gotten worse from your last three seasons. In the previous seasons, at least, you had your heart in the right place and philosophy in the noble spectrum. Now, you’ve just turned into also-rans who can’t even entertain their fans.

Do you know that NEU were one of my favourites through the last three seasons? It was simply because they were principled in terms of football development and football purity.

In previous seasons, NEU were about youth, pace, and passing. You know, the noblest way of playing football? The way that is lauded by experts, pundits, and fans the world over even if you lose 3 – 0? In this season, they’ve turned into the stereotype of all small teams trying to nick a living in football. I’m very disappointed.

Why does NorthEast United have so many players above 6 feet in height? Why do the Highlanders have such massively built physical players? You know the answer. It is because they’re playing that annoying style of football where you send the ball forward and run after it like your ass is on fire.

When they weren’t lobbing dud grenades at the Chennaiyin defence, they were imagining they were all Indian Messis. Every midfielder in NEUTD thinks he can dribble through three or four players. The thing is they couldn’t even beat their individual markers.

Their “star” striker is Cezario or Danilo Lopes Cezario. He’s supposedly from the famed Santos Academy in Brazil. I didn’t see any famed Santos flair, though. I saw him thinking that he had skills but every time he would try to use them the ball would either spill out 3 yards ahead of him or be left 3 yards behind him.

He played so badly that it was almost comical. The only problem was that he had the “I’m chilled out because I’m gonna pull a magical goal any minute” kind of look on his face. I can tell you he had me fooled. I kept expecting him to do something great while serially wincing at all his mistakes.

Cezario, folks, lived inside Henrique Sereno’s pockets all night long. Sereno didn’t even have to put him in his back pocket, Cezario just leapt into it for some warmth and a cuddle. Luiz Paez would’ve been a much better option through the middle as he showed when he came on late in the game.

If you thought Cezario was bad, you should’ve seen the central defenders. Their foreign import Jose Julio Goncalves (central defender) was so uncertain on the ball I had to check if he was wearing those big shoes that clowns wear. Is a failed wrestler by any chance? Do any of you know?

His partner in this abomination of a crime called defending wasn’t that much better either. Step forward Abdul Hakku. Both these guys were all height and strength but no skill.

I have to admit that I didn’t see NEUTD against Jamshedpur FC. I hear that they did quite well. I don’t know how they played. I don’t know if their tactics and playing style was same. What I do know is that if it was like this, they couldn’t have played all that well or Jamshedpur FC must’ve been playing with midgets in their team.

NorthEast United, I’m sorry to say, were soundly beaten. They didn’t even put up a fight. The worst of it was the distinct lack of commitment and desire.

Goals from Chennaiyin

Chennaiyin’s lead may have come with luck but they dominated the entire game so it was more than deserved. It was a clipped ball from Augusto that was basically meant for the vertical run of Jeje Lalpekhlua. In his bid to cut it out, the NEUTD defender (I think, it was Hakku) diverted it into the net. Augusto got to celebrate, though, and Gregory got to look like a genius for pushing him into a more offensive position. Incidentally, even though I think the goal should go to Augusto, it was deemed an own goal.

The second goal made Gregory look even more of a genius since it was set up his namesake and finished by Augusto again. The goal came after a very good move from the Super Machans. The move saw Gregory galloping on the inside left flank. He checked into his defender and cross a ball to Augusto. Augusto made no mistake whatsoever and finished with composure. For me, it was far too easy for Chennaiyin to open up the NEUTD defence.

The third goal was an opportunistic one from Mohammed Rafi when NEUTD had all but thrown in the towel. He scored with a simple header from a rebound off the crossbar. The ball hit the crossbar after a gorgeous banana freekick from Jaime Gavilan.

Goals from NorthEast United

There were none. Don’t laugh.

Notice: This establishment reserves its right to troll various Indian Super League footballers, managers, and franchises.

Match Report: Northeast United 1 – 1 FC Goa

Like Rehenesh TP debuted in the Indian Super League (ISL) today, this post marks the debut of ISL Blog. However, I’d like to avoid the fate of the Northeast United’s Goalkeeper as he was the one who started the goal proceedings in a negative way.

I could’ve probably chosen a more entertaining game to begin ISL Blog but at the same time, I could’ve chosen something much worse. I will settle for this one.

Impressive But a Slightly Dirty Beginning from Northeast United

Like Rehenesh TP debuted in the Indian Super League (ISL) today, this post marks the debut of ISL Blog. However, I’d like to avoid the fate of the Northeast United’s Goalkeeper as he was the one who started the goal proceedings in a negative way. I could’ve probably chosen a more entertaining game to begin ISL Blog but at the same time, I could’ve chosen something much worse. I will settle for this one. Impressive But a Slightly Dirty Beginning from Northeast The game began tentatively with the first major incident being the battering of Robert Pires at the hands of Isaac Chansa. Chansa did make up for going after my favourite player in the league by showing some real verve and drive for the rest of the game and eliminating the hooligan from his game. The first good incident was the drive from Capdevila under the wall which almost went in due to a deflection. Seda, Goa’s goalkeeper, played well throughout the night and kept Northeast’s multiple attacks at bay. The game was dominated by Koke from beginning till he was substituted. While people may have expected Pires’s pedigree they saw the calm panache of Koke. Somehow, he always had enough space and time to gather the ball, look up, and slide in a sumptuous pass.  That was the crux of the game from the Home team. Northeast would press hard and high, get the ball, hand it to Koke, and watch him slide balls left, right and centre to willing runners from the middle and the flank. This strategy, eventually, lead to FC Goa being pushed back into their own half and hoping for counters, especially since Pires’s age and rustiness meant that he couldn’t dominate the game. I have to say, I liked Northeast’s game. The First Goal against the Run of Play As is the case with such strategies, Northeast received a lot of offsides against them. Some of the credit must go to Goa’s defence for this and particularly Gregory who made many key interceptions and kept a tight control over the whole defensive line. Gregory would make an even more key contribution at 17 minutes when Goa took the lead against the run of play.  It was a scrappy goal. Chansa, in his early quest to scalp Pires, put in a dirty challenge and was yellow carded. Pires was constantly being double teamed and fouled. I understand the need for laying down the gauntlet to a silky stylish player but forced physicality is not something that I believe Indian football should be straddled with. We, anyways, lack the required technique and quality needed to excel on the world football stage. If the referees start letting tough fouls go by then we’ll end up becoming Neanderthals on the pitch. No one wants to play like Stoke’s ogres do they? The punishment was fair on Chansa and the insult to injury even more so. Santos, the perennial flab master and whipping boy of fans, took the free kick. It was a simple enough affair but Rehenesh decided to make a hash of it or should it be Renehash? He fumbled the simple catch and the ball fell to Ranti Martins, who flicked it towards the goal on the fall. The ball hit the post and rolled across the mouth of the goal. Robin came in and tried to clear the ball which promptly hit Rehenesh’s head while he was flailing on the floor and went to Gregory. Gregory side footed the ball in from a yard out. Yes, it was not a beautiful goal. More importantly, it was against the run of play. Rehenesh would spend the rest of the game being uncertain whether he should come for a ball or let his defenders handle it. Northeast’s Reaction to Going Behind Northeast, after the goal, got even more aggressive with their pressing, running, and hounding. The temperature kept on going up inside the stadium till it exploded with the equaliser at about 36 minutes. The equaliser was controversial though, seriously controversial. The referee for the night, one known as D Gantar, has probably never made a bigger blunder in his life. He gave a penalty to Northeast that should never have stood. Even R Herbert, Northeast’s manager looked slightly surprised and bemused. The call was so poor that the referee should go home take the Ice Bucket Water Challenge just so he could feel clean again. The ball was bouncing around and looped up into the air. Robin jumps from the outside of the box into the air and so does Debarata. The two collide and, for some reason, the grey matter inside Ganter’s head turns into slush and he decides to go for fame. Penalty given. At least, he had the sense to not send the player off. Koke stepped up and calmly equalised with his second goal of the tournament. He coolly sent the keeper to his left and slotted nonchalantly towards his right. No fuss, no huff, bread buttered, breakfast had. Home fans, promptly set off some rockets – its Diwali after all. Northeast continued to dominate the rest of the half. Such was their domination that they had 59% possession. The home fans deserve appreciation and some criticism. I liked the way they cheered their team but I don’t like the fact that they chose to boo the other team’s substitutions. I’ve not heard of categorically booing the opponent’s substitutions, even though I know specifically hated players get the special treatment. Not good sportsmanship at all. The One Way Second Half The second half was starker than the first half. Northeast took control of the game firmly and pushed and pushed to get multiple chances. Goa retreated into their half, presented two banks of defenders, but still gave away a number of good chances. Northeast, led by Koke’s creativity and Capdevila good defending, got many through balls in to runners on flanks but the final ball was always less than perfect. Capdevila would win it and lay it off to a teammate who would promptly pick out Koke. Koke would then proceed to dish out pass after wonderful pass. The finishing was poor though and Seda in good form. He singlehandedly kept Goa in the game and came up with a number of good saves. Pires and Santos, both spent forces, were taken off by Zico later. Isn’t it typical of Zico to setup his team defensively? At least that’s how I remember that man’s managerial stints. He was surprisingly defensive for a Brazilian.  The Final Stretch Edgar Marcelino came on for Pires and he does deserve a mention because he almost took the game by the scruff of its neck a few times. He ran with the ball and put in some good passes before he was too shut down by the Northeast midfield. Chansa also made a difference with his engine, once he put a lid on trying to physically intimidate every opponent. After he stopped giving away fouls, he actually became the archetypical Box to Box midfielder. About the 80 minute mark, everyone got tired with the heavy ISL schedule taking a toll. Some more substitutions were made and both teams seemed to accept that one point will be good enough but the fatigue at the end of the game was palpable. Certain rules also had a role to play in creating that fatigue for both teams. For instance, in an ISL match, both teams must have at least five domestic i.e. Indian players on the pitch. The rule, while good for the development of Indian football, does mean tied hands for managers. Isn’t that a nugget you can throw in your friend’s face the next time he shows off his football knowledge to you in the middle of a match? I’ll try to give you one fact like this with every post on this blog. All in all, the match turned out to be far better than what I expected (I’m used to watching the European – Spain and England – standards of football). Some expectations were met. I thought the foreign names would dominate the game and they did. Only time will tell whether some fairy dust (experience) from those legends will brush off onto Indian players’ shoulders. I did see Pires and Capdevila trying to be generals on the pitch while Koke had a calmness to him that helped his team. Here’s to hoping the Indian players will show some flare and technique in the future matches. Cheers!The game began tentatively with the first major incident being the battering of Robert Pires at the hands of Isaac Chansa. Chansa did make up for going after my favourite player in the league by showing some real verve and drive for the rest of the game and eliminating the hooligan from his game. The first good incident was the drive from Capdevila under the wall which almost went in due to a deflection. Seda, Goa’s goalkeeper, played well throughout the night and kept Northeast United’s multiple attacks at bay.

The game was dominated by Koke from beginning till he was substituted. While people may have expected Pires’s pedigree they saw the calm panache of Koke. Somehow, he always had enough space and time to gather the ball, look up, and slide in a sumptuous pass.

That was the crux of the game from the Home team. Northeast would press hard and high, get the ball, hand it to Koke, and watch him slide balls left, right and centre to willing runners from the middle and the flank. This strategy, eventually, lead to FC Goa being pushed back into their own half and hoping for counters, especially since Pires’s age and rustiness meant that he couldn’t dominate the game. I have to say, I liked Northeast United’s game.

The First Goal against the Run of Play

As is the case with such strategies, Northeast received a lot of offsides against them. Some of the credit must go to Goa’s defence for this and particularly Gregory who made many key interceptions and kept a tight control over the whole defensive line. Gregory would make an even more key contribution at 17 minutes when Goa took the lead against the run of play.

It was a scrappy goal. Chansa, in his early quest to scalp Pires, put in a dirty challenge and was yellow carded. Pires was constantly being double teamed and fouled by Northeast United.

I understand the need for laying down the gauntlet to a silky stylish player but forced physicality is not something that I believe Indian football should be straddled with. We, anyways, lack the required technique and quality needed to excel on the world football stage. If the referees start letting tough fouls go by then we’ll end up becoming Neanderthals on the pitch. No one wants to play like Stoke’s ogres do they?

The punishment was fair on Chansa and the insult to injury even more so. Santos, the perennial flab master and whipping boy of fans, took the free kick. It was a simple enough affair but Rehenesh decided to make a hash of it or should it be Renehash? He fumbled the simple catch and the ball fell to Ranti Martins, who flicked it towards the goal on the fall. The ball hit the post and rolled across the mouth of the goal. Robin came in and tried to clear the ball which promptly hit Rehenesh’s head while he was flailing on the floor and went to Gregory. Gregory side footed the ball in from a yard out. Yes, it was not a beautiful goal. More importantly, it was against the run of play. Rehenesh would spend the rest of the game being uncertain whether he should come for a ball or let his defenders handle it.

Northeast’s Reaction to Going Behind

Northeast, after the goal, got even more aggressive with their pressing, running, and hounding. The temperature kept on going up inside the stadium till it exploded with the equaliser at about 36 minutes. The equaliser was controversial though, seriously controversial.

The referee for the night, one known as D Gantar, has probably never made a bigger blunder in his life. He gave a penalty to Northeast that should never have stood. Even R Herbert, Northeast’s manager looked slightly surprised and bemused. The call was so poor that the referee should go home take the Ice Bucket Water Challenge just so he could feel clean again.

The ball was bouncing around and looped up into the air. Robin jumps from the outside of the box into the air and so does Debarata. The two collide and, for some reason, the grey matter inside Ganter’s head turns into slush and he decides to go for fame. Penalty given. At least, he had the sense to not send the player off.

Koke stepped up and calmly equalised with his second goal of the tournament for Northeast United. He coolly sent the keeper to his left and slotted nonchalantly towards his right. No fuss, no huff, bread buttered, breakfast had. Home fans, promptly set off some rockets – its Diwali after all. Northeast continued to dominate the rest of the half. Such was their domination that they had 59% possession.

The home fans deserve appreciation and some criticism. I liked the way they cheered their team but I don’t like the fact that they chose to boo the other team’s substitutions. I’ve not heard of categorically booing the opponent’s substitutions, even though I know specifically hated players get the special treatment. Not good sportsmanship at all.

The One Way Second Half

The second half was starker than the first half. Northeast took control of the game firmly and pushed and pushed to get multiple chances. Goa retreated into their half, presented two banks of defenders, but still gave away a number of good chances. Northeast, led by Koke’s creativity and Capdevila good defending, got many through balls in to runners on flanks but the final ball was always less than perfect. Capdevila would win it and lay it off to a teammate who would promptly pick out Koke. Koke would then proceed to dish out pass after wonderful pass.

The finishing was poor though and Seda in good form. He singlehandedly kept Goa in the game and came up with a number of good saves. Pires and Santos, both spent forces, were taken off by Zico later. Isn’t it typical of Zico to setup his team defensively? At least that’s how I remember that man’s managerial stints. He was surprisingly defensive for a Brazilian.

The Final Stretch

Edgar Marcelino came on for Pires and he does deserve a mention because he almost took the game by the scruff of its neck a few times. He ran with the ball and put in some good passes before he was too shut down by the Northeast United midfield. Chansa also made a difference with his engine, once he put a lid on trying to physically intimidate every opponent. After he stopped giving away fouls, he actually became the archetypical Box to Box midfielder.

About the 80 minute mark, everyone got tired with the heavy ISL schedule taking a toll. Some more substitutions were made and both teams seemed to accept that one point will be good enough but the fatigue at the end of the game was palpable.

Certain rules also had a role to play in creating that fatigue for both teams. For instance, in an ISL match, both teams must have at least five domestic i.e. Indian players on the pitch. The rule, while good for the development of Indian football, does mean tied hands for managers. Isn’t that a nugget you can throw in your friend’s face the next time he shows off his football knowledge to you in the middle of a match? I’ll try to give you one fact like this with every post on this blog.

All in all, the match turned out to be far better than what I expected (I’m used to watching the European – Spain and England – standards of football). Some expectations were met. I thought the foreign names would dominate the game and they did. Only time will tell whether some fairy dust (experience) from those legends will brush off onto Indian players’ shoulders. I did see Pires and Capdevila trying to be generals on the pitch while Koke had a calmness to him that helped his team. Here’s to hoping the Indian players will show some flare and technique in the future matches. Cheers!