Goa, March 13: Owen Coyle has overseen a remarkable turnaround at Chennaiyin FC in 2019-20 Hero Indian Super League.
As a result of several good performances and an eight-match unbeaten run in their last eight fixtures of the league stage, they were able to secure the fourth spot, a feat that seemed improbable when he took charge in December.
In the playoffs, Chennaiyin ran riot in the first leg against FC Goa at home and carried a 4-1 advantage to Goa where they stood firm to secure a win on aggregate and book their place in the final of the sixth season of the Hero ISL.
Ahead of their crucial final clash against ATK on Saturday, the head coach of the two-time champions pointed out how a mini-break that Chennaiyin had after his first match in charge helped him work out his plans well. Chennaiyin's fixture against NorthEast United in Guwahati on December 12 was postponed and that gave Coyle time to think.
"That (game against Jamshedpur) was our first game when Farukh (Chowdhury) put the ball in the net in the 95th minute. It may have jumbled it up for us to get to the playoffs, but the postponement of the game against NorthEast United actually worked in our favour in many ways," Coyle said, on the eve of the Hero ISL final.
He continued, "You will see players who play for different teams and you think they are very good players, but when you see everything that you have, the quality and everything else. So that time allowed me to look at the players during training and for my next game against Kerala [Blasters] I changed my team (first 11).
"Had we played NorthEast two days later, I probably would have played the same team we played against Jamshedpur because we had no time to access. Having watched the training, I have been able to see how good a player Jerry (Lalrinzuala) was and I had to think of a way to get him in the team."
Chennaiyin are on an excellent run of form as they prepare to take on ATK and Owen Coyle will be hoping to end what has been a brilliant second half of the season on a trophy-winning note.