The season didn’t quite go as planned for the Blues as they missed out on any silverware.
A semi-final exit at the hands of eventual champions ATK ended the hopes of defending their title as Bengaluru FC finished the season trophy-less for the first time ever since the club’s inception. The Blues made it to their third straight play-offs this season and became the first side after inaugural champions ATK in 2015, to reach the play-offs as defending champions.
Bengaluru FC had a very shaky start to the campaign as they failed to register a win in their first three games and managed to score just once. A series of mixed results followed as they failed to maintain the consistency they had established in the past two seasons of the ISL.
The final part of the season took toll on them as the AFC Cup playoffs kicked off amidst the final league fixtures. Several injuries, underperforming players and lack of rest had an adverse effect on Bengaluru FC. Unfortunately, they bowed out of the AFC Cup and also failed to secure a slot for next season’s AFC Cup campaign as they finished third in the league table.
The Blues had the best defensive record this season earning a record 11 clean sheets while conceding just 16 goals throughout their campaign. However, the attackers couldn’t contribute very well and managed to score just 24 goals, only the seventh best in the league.
Fact Sheet For Indian Super League Season 2019-20
Season Finished: 3rd
Games Played: 20
Win %: 45
Top 3 Performers
Underperformer of the Season
Udanta Singh: Much has been spoken about the Indian winger this season as he failed to live up to the expectations of the coach and the fans. Udanta Singh played in his sixth season at the club carrying huge expectations to perform at a level that would help take some part of the weight off Sunil Chhetri’s shoulder. However, the winger had a forgetful season, disastrous if compared to his past records.
With just one goal and no assists from 19 appearances, Udanta often had to bear the brunt of the Blues’ incompetence in the attacking third. He was subject to open criticism from the coach and was subbed off early on many occasions due to his poor show on the field. Nevertheless, the club have pinned their hopes on the winger for the future as they extended his contract for three more years. They will certainly wish to see him return to his best with the hope that his dark days go by in a flash.
Udanta Singh’s 2019-20 Season in Numbers
Goal Conversion Rate: 3%
Passing Accuracy: 57.78
Top 3 Performances
1. Bengaluru FC 3-0 Chennaiyin FC
2. Bengaluru FC 2-1 FC Goa
3. Bengaluru FC 3-0 Odisha FC
Manager’s Report Card
In his second season as head coach, Carles Cuadrat had a lot riding on him as the Blue set out to defend their title. Cuadrat was quick to point out that star striker Miku’s departure has left a void in the side and should be filled in at the earliest. The Spaniard didn’t have the best of starts to the campaign as the side was struggling to score goals. He received a lot of flak for his dependence on goals from set-pieces which made up for more than half of the goals that the Blues scored this season.
Ashique’s arrival at the club carried a lot of promise, but the coach’s choice in having him to play as a left-back invited a lot of questions. Moreover, new signing Manuel Onwu, who failed to net even once for the Blues, moved to Odisha on a loan move only to score seven goals including a hat-trick.
Cuadrat was often blamed for the lack of attacking instinct in a team that boasts of some of the most versatile players in the attacking third. However, he has promoted a few youth talents to the senior squad and it has worked wonders for the club. The likes of Suresh Wangjam, Leon Augustine and Parag Shrivas have been impressive this season and Cuadrat surely deserves credit for giving them the minutes.
Further, there have been a lot of questions over Cuadrat’s role as head coach despite the side finishing in a playoffs spot – a feat that would’ve saved a few other coaches’ jobs. Yet, a change in personnel seems unlikely.
Lessons to be Learned
The season proved that despite the various options available, the team relies on captain Sunil Chhetri’s heroics to see them through. The club have failed to sign a replacement for Miku and most importantly lack the presence of a play-maker to create chances for the attackers. The Blues carried a very defensive approach this season and paid the price for it as they struggled to score goals from open play.
Cuadrat had often stated that the club refused to hold on to the likes of Miku and Xisco Hernandez and the replacements that followed certainly didn’t strike upon arrival. ATK made the right signings before the tournament and as a result performed brilliantly and won the title. Bengaluru FC could probably learn a lesson or two from their counterparts and look to bounce back next season.
Expectations were high in the BFC camp as the 2019-20 season of Indian football began. Bengaluru had been consistent and had topped the table as well as reached the finals for two consecutive seasons. The fans expected the defending champions to become the first ISL team to defend the trophy and make a deep run in the AFC cup but, this season has been hugely disappointing.
The team started the season with a string of draws before finally taking off with a win against Chennaiyin. The Blues struggled to score throughout the season. This led to changes in tactics with more focus on defensive solidarity and set pieces. Though BFC’s set-piece play was a delight to watch and most goals came through them, we had the third least goals scored this season. It was the defence which dragged the team into the playoffs with the best defensive record in the league but disappointment awaited us in the AFC cup.
2019-20 was a disappointing campaign for the Blues with very few positives. The general style of play was a step down from the previous seasons. The recruitment strategy was poor with incoming players not fitting the style of play or plagued with injuries. Udanta and Ashique on either flanks weren’t good enough. Among the few positives was the emergence of Suresh Singh and Leon Augustine who hold great promise for the future. Gurpreet Singh was on top of his game between the sticks winning the Golden Glove. But overall it was a forgettable campaign for the Blues who failed to add to their trophy collection. Hope we bounce back stronger next season.