The Bengaluru FC head coach also shared his opinion on the FC Goa side.

Bengaluru FC is set to meet FC Goa on Saturday in Goa. Both teams have had contrasting starts to the season in which FC Goa have 12 points from six games while Bengaluru FC have only four from the same number of games. Thus, Simon Grayson’s side will be looking to change their fortunes against FC Goa on Saturday and bring their season back on track.

Two days before the game, before departing for Goa, Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson and winger Udanta Singh met press people to share their thoughts on the upcoming game. Edited excerpts from the conference are as follows.

The overall mood of the team

After being completely outplayed by Mumbai City in the last game, there are apprehensions among fans regarding the team’s mood. Grayson talked about this aspect in detail at the conference. He said that the mood of the team is very positive and they expect good results soon. He said:

“After the game with Mumbai, the players have seen a different side of me in the dressing room and also publicly. The second-half performance of the players did not warrant any backing from me because it was not good enough. But what I have seen since, in our training sessions, is there has been a good reaction.”

He continued, “There is a good positive vibe among the players. There is something extra in the players in training, which is probably something that we have been missing in a number of games. You want a reaction from the players and I would like to think that this is the reaction in training. Now, we have to see the reaction on Saturday in Goa.”

On the team’s performance in the last game

Simon Grayson sounded very disappointed about his team’s second-half performance in the last game. He said that his team’s second-half performance was poor as the team lacked confidence. He mentioned:

“Confidence and belief are big things. On Monday, we watched the game (MCFC vs BFC) again. I said to them at the half time of the game, if you are neutral and you take the two goals out, you’d still know who is going to win the second half quite comfortably. We played well in the first half. The two mistakes through which we conceded gave Mumbai a lot of confidence. They don’t really need any more of that because they were already on a good run. And it did deflate us.”

He added, “The big thing at half time was if we could have got the next goal, the game was on. Unfortunately, we gave a stupid goal trying to play offside when there was no pressure on the ball. From then on, it was difficult as Mumbai exposed us again a few times. We did not work as hard as we should have done. That was the most frustrating part. At that moment, confidence and belief went a bit down in the team. But as a team, we need to dig deep. We have to stay together and go till the very end.”

On the team’s defence in the last game

Grayson again sounded quite displeased with the manner his team defended in the previous game. However, he did not squarely blame the defenders and said that all the members of the team have defensive duties. He stated:

“As a coach, you work on things. But when players cross the line, it is their decision-making. It (decision-making) is taken away from you because you can’t play the game for the players. The decision-making was poor with all the goals we have conceded. I hope it was just a blip because our defence normally has been very good. Our line has, the gap between defence and midfield, and defenders working in partnership has been very good. We had conceded only one goal against Hyderabad, East Bengal, and Odisha, and those were all mistakes as well. We have not been bad defensively. So, it is something that we have to learn from and hope that it was a one-off occasion.”

The tactician added, “You just don’t blame the defenders because you have to put pressure on the ball high up the pitch. The strikers, wide players, and midfielders are all part of this defensive unit that we have in the group.”

Coach’s thoughts on the squad of Bengaluru FC

Simon Grayson expressed his opinion on the squad of Bengaluru FC. He believes that they have a strong squad that can do well working together.

“When you look at our squad, I think it is a decent squad that I have inherited. I have added one important player to the squad in the form of Alek (Aleksandar Jovanovic) coming in from Australia. It is predominantly the squad from last year. So, it is not my group of players but it is my group as well. I want to work with this group. I think we have got a really good group, in terms of personnel and types of people.

He added, “We have to keep working, add to each other, and keep pushing. That comes from within the players. I can motivate them, I can have sessions, but it will have to be a desire (from within the players) to run for the balls, put in tackles, be ruthless when you get the opportunity, and all those things. So, putting all these together gives you a better chance of winning matches.”

The reason behind Hira Mondal’s departure

While answering a question related to the departure of Hira Mondal, Grayson said that it is a personal choice of Hira to leave the club. He said:

“Hira was among the players who were signed before I came to the club. It was a surprise for me when I got a call from a senior manager saying that he has to be released from his contract. I did not have any conversation with him related to football. He obviously felt he wanted to be somewhere else. That was the best option for him. If somebody does not want to be here, I would not keep them or hold them against their will.”

Thoughts on FC Goa

Simon Grayson expressed his thoughts on FC Goa’s quality. He believes that Goa is playing possession-based football this season. At the same time, he asserted that Bengaluru can hurt FC Goa. He said:

“When you compare them with their previous season’s performance, they are playing much more possession-based football. They do keep possession and tend to play possessional football. But they also have players who can play long balls in case they need to play long balls. And that’s a good combination. Obviously, they have got a good start and some good players. But if we turn up and play in the manner we played in the first half against Mumbai without the mistakes, our strikers, attacking players, and midfielders can hurt the opposition. We have got some very talented players.”

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