Chennai: Teddy Sheringham’s introduction to the Indian Super League has truly been a baptism of fire as his Atletico de Kolkata are at the foot of the table with two points from three matches.
More worryingly for the Englishman, ATK have scored only once, that too off a free kick, in 270 minutes.
Sheringham admitted that the pressure was on him and his side to deliver against Chennaiyin FC here on Thursday.
From the high of winning the title last year to the low of an underwhelming start to season four, Atletico are now conversant with both ends of the table.
It’s too early for alarm balls to go off for ATK but the most successful team in the ambitious league with two titles must get their mojo back at the earliest.
Sheringham said the basement isn’t a great dwelling place for the reigning champions. “I know that we need to do well,” said the man who scored a late, late equaliser for Manchester United in the 1999 Champions League final against Bayern Munich, which the English club went on to win 2-1.
He would be keen to ensure that ATK wake up in time to join the play-off race.
While their star import Robbie Keane is still nursing an injury, Atletico would also miss the services of key midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh who suffered a knock on his knee in the previous round.
Sheringham promised to draw inspiration from his 25 years of experience as a player to lift ATK. Chennaiyin manager John Gregory was as gregarious as ever ahead of the battle of the Englishmen in the dugout.
Gregory’s India sojourn started with a loss but his team rebounded with two back to back wins. “My players showed character after losing the opener. I’m pleased with the fact that we have not conceded a goal in two and a half matches (from the second half of the first match),” he said.
At the other end of the pitch, however, Chennaiyin has some concerns as Jeje Lalpekhlua is yet to open his account. But Gregory said he wasn’t worried over the lack of goals for the striker. Chennaiyin’s record against Kolkata is dreadful with a solitary win in eight matches over three seasons.
But the contrasting form of the two teams would compel the hosts to believe that history holds no relevance for the outcome of Thursday’s match.