Kolkata: In the midst of their worst season ever, former champions ATK will look to quickly recover from the ouster of coach Teddy Sheringham as they take on second- placed Chennaiyin FC in an Indian Super League football fixture here on Thursday.
Under-fire Sheringham was on Wednesday sacked by ATK after the club's string of poor results and his deputy Ashley Westwood was announced as interim coach for the rest of the ISL season.
Under Sheringham, the defending champions suffered four losses and drew thrice in 10 outings to slip to eighth place in the 10-team standings. The most successful ISL franchise were blanked 0-3 by Pune City in their last outing on January 20 and soon reports emerged that the team think-tank may sack Sheringham, the former Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur striker.
Now with Westwood taking up the reins, it would be a tough task for the 41-year-old from England to bring a change in their fortunes, given that ATK have eight matches left and they are yet to hit top gear.
But the silver-lining is that they play six of the remaining matches at home and they would look to bounce back against Chennaiyin who suffered a 1-3 upset against NorthEast United FC in Guwahati on January 19.
The two-time champions have been left handicapped this season with injury woes, notably to their star striker Robbie Keane and best Indian player Eugeneson Lyngdoh.
FC Pune City, who were coming off from a defeat to Chennaiyin FC, were without their mercurial midfielder Marcos Tebar but that did not affect them as they toyed with ATK's defence and could have easily won by a bigger margin.
Conor Thomas and Ryan Taylor struggled to impose themselves in midfield against the likes of Jewel Raja and Rohit Kumar. Debjit Majumder, who signed for ATK following brilliant performance for Mohun Bagan, came a cropper against Pune.
Chennaiyin FC's five-match unbeaten run was snapped by NEUFC and assistant coach Sabir Pasha hoped to bounce back against ATK.
"It happens, we came back strongly in the end and we had some chances, but I think we made a great effort in the last 20 minutes. We cannot take anything away from the players. They have been great. We have to come back strongly," Pasha said.
Pasha is handling the side in absence of their head coach John Gregory, who is on a three-match suspension for his comments on referees. Chennaiyin will also hope that midfielder Bikramjit Singh returns to the side....