Tottering Bengaluru FC takes on dilapidated NorthEast United at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium. Full points have eluded the teams off late, both winning one in their last five and losing four. Bengaluru FC is ninth with 10 points, and NorthEast are bottom with just two points all season. BFC head coach Simon Grayson accompanied misfiring forward Roy Krishna in the pre-match press conference.

Below are the excerpts from the talks between the two and the media:

Reflecting on the defeat against East Bengal

BFC slumped to their eighth defeat of the season with a 2-1 loss to East Bengal. Former blue Cleiton Silva scored both goals, the winner a stunning 30-yard free-kick that beat Gurpreet. Simon Grayson spoke of the frustrations of losing another match after dominating it, “I am experienced enough to see how the games are and have a true reflection on it a few days later. There wasn’t much in the first half. In the second half, we were the dominant team.

They looked like a threat on the counter-attack and we got punished by a fantastic free-kick. It was a game we did not deserve to lose. It is hard at times and frustrating. We are so close to becoming a good team and getting onto a winning run but at the moment we are not being able to put that to practice,” the 53-year-old tactician continued.

Thoughts on NorthEast United

Under Vincenzo Alberto Annese, NorthEast United FC has suffered three crushing defeats on either side of a 1-0 upset win against injury-troubled ATK Mohun Bagan. Simon Grayson said that he treats all teams with respect.

“They’ve got a good coach with a different style of football. It’s never easy going up to NorthEast in the first place. It’s a new challenge for us and we treat all teams with respect. We need to keep the belief and confidence we have built and as visible through our performances against ATK, Hyderabad, and East Bengal,” the English manager commented.

Roy Krishna’s assessment of his performances

Since moving to Bengaluru FC, Fijian Roy Krishna has scored just once and has not looked like his former threatening self. He is working hard at training and said, “Season’s not over yet. Of course, it’s frustrating not to score for my team but we are all in this together. We are training really hard but it’s tough and we’ve got to keep going. We have a strong group.

“I am trying to better my game. I’m working hard in training and doing my best in the matches. Normally I score such chances, but it’s a tough period. I just have to keep making runs and trust in the boys to be on the same page,” the former ATK Mohun Bagan forward added.

Still a mathematical chance to make the playoffs

BFC are nine points behind Odisha in the sixth, who occupy the final playoff spot. With eight matches to go, there is still a chance for Bengaluru FC to mount a spectacular turnaround. Grayson issued a rallying cry to his troops.

“All we have to do is keep believing that we are going in the right direction. We still got a goal to achieve and until we can’t achieve that goal, we are not giving up on it. The results are not going our way recently but we keep going to the very end. When you see them drop to their knees at the end of the game, it is not only about frustration but exhaustion as well. I see lots of good things in training and in matchday situations.

“If we put everything together, we can still go on a run. Until it is mathematically impossible, we will step out to try and win every game. At some point, we will get an opportunity to build on from and we can get to where we want to get to. It’s a very tight league. Belief and confidence is a big thing and we certainly have got that still within the group.”

Ineffective set-pieces this season

For a team who scores over 50% of the goals through set pieces, the dead-ball creativity has died down drastically. Simon Grayson admitted that it’s just not clicking during the matches and that the delivery has not been up to the levels, “Whoever is taking our set-pieces should decide which routine we have to do and if we can execute the delivery. If we are being honest, it has not been to the level that we expect. Somebody like Javi with his left foot should be creating more chances. Roshan has taken them, Bhutia has taken them but our delivery has not been great. We haven’t really executed what we want to do.”

Roy Krishna on overcoming his lean patch

Every player has a lean patch in his or her career. Roy Krishna is experiencing such a slump but is confident that with a bit of luck, he can get going again. He said, “Now I know how to deal with it, I am more experienced. If you had asked me this 10 years ago, I would have struggled. Even if I don’t score, I train hard off the field. On the field, I just need a bit of luck to score goals. I keep working hard and hopefully this new year I bring something special.”

The mental impact of a tough season on young players

BFC have a rich mix of raw youngsters and seasoned players in their squad, and Grayson believes that the youngsters will become better players following this period, “You need role models in every group. The players will learn from this experience. They will come out of this tough period as better players, both physically and mentally. You have to suffer, as it makes you stronger for the future.”

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