Bengaluru FC’s new head coach also spoke about the roles Sunil Chhetri and Sandesh Jhingan will play.

Newly-appointed Bengaluru FC coach Simon Grayson will have his first challenge when the club start their campaign in Durand Cup 2022. Grayson replaced the outgoing Marco Pezzaiuoli as BFC’s new head coach on a two-year contract. The Englishman, who has managed clubs like Leeds United, and Huddersfield Town, spoke in a press conference ahead of the club’s departure for Kolkata.

Grayson expressed his gratitude for the club’s willingness to aid him, the facilities granted and the players. He also emphasised his beliefs and his plans for the buildup to the season among other things. Let us now take a look at his thoughts on those:

Atmosphere, fans, and how it has been so far at the club

Simon Grayson was all praise for the Blues’ fanbase; one of the most passionate fanbases in India. While giving an account of how his journey has been so far.

“I’ve been here nearly four weeks now. Not just in Bangalore, we obviously were in Bellary three weeks ago. Everybody felt so welcome; the office staff connected with the football club, and all the players. It’s been really good and we’ve enjoyed it so far. We’ve worked very hard in the training camp at Bellary. We’re looking forward to the next few weeks to do well at the Durand Cup. Really enjoyed it so far and need to get more used to the area, and the people.

“Especially the supporters. They’ve gone two years without seeing the players or meeting them (and now) they’re like mad people. That’s what we expect and the reputation when I came to the football club (was that) they fully back the team, (are) very vocal, and we’ve seen that today. Hopefully this season, we’ll give them something more to cheer about.”  

Bengaluru FC’s tactical plan will be this year 

Bengaluru FC played with inverted fullbacks for the entirety of last season. However, Simon Grayson might have some different plans this time around. When asked about the same and how what kind of a challenge it is to stick to a style of play, this is what he had to say,  

“We want to play attractive football. The key will be to stay competitive, make sure we keep clean-sheets and give people value for money. We want our players to make good decisions, especially at the top end of the pitch. If they try to take people on, if they’re shooting, that’s what we want; for them to try and express themselves. If these strikers come back and try nutmegging people in my 18-yard box I will be telling them off and the defenders as well. 

So it’s the right balance. You don’t wanna be very harsh, play with a smile on our faces, enjoy ourselves, and enjoy coming to training every day. We have to have a really good spirit to keep going till the very end. With the younger players learning off the experienced players there’s no reason why we can’t do really, really well at the competitive stage.”

Club’s recruits so far

Bengaluru FC made quite a few strides in the summer transfer window. Alongside renowned names like Roy Krishna, Javi Hernandez, Prabir Das, and Sandesh Jhingan they reinforced their foreign contingent as well. The English head coach was appreciative of his involvement and the quality of the Blues’ recruitment.

“Yeah, I think we’ve had a really good transfer window. Obviously, there were a few players that were under contract before I came here. The academy has been very successful in putting through players to the first team squad. But the new additions will all bring something different to the squad. Javi (Hernandez) and Roy (Krishna) have a fantastic experience playing in the ISL. (They are) leaders who know what it’s like to win matches and trophies. 

“So, I think they’ll be a great addition with their qualities, skills, and personalities and it’s something for our younger players to look up to. And if you throw Sunil (Chhetri) into the mix with that, it’ll be a good prep. We’ll have experienced players who our younger players can learn from. We have Aleksandar (Jovanovic), the Australian centre-back which is another one that I’m really pleased about. Then from the last season the foreigners we had. 

“The likes of Alan (Costa), Bruno (Ramires) and Prince (Ibarra) give us good competition. So I think the club have worked extremely hard to attract some good players. People who know the league and know what it’s like to win these divisions and win trophies at this level. So overall really pleased. 

“When I looked back at when Mandar (Tamhane) mentioned to me ‘would you like to sign Roy?’ or would you like to sign Javi?’ that I was more than keen to do. They’re very good players with good personalities and other players with Indian backgrounds, Prabir and one or two others, are really good types. They’re experienced and extremely talented players. So, once again, very pleased with the recruitment.” 

Sunil Chhetri’s role this season

Club Captain Sunil Chhetri was unable to retain his scoring mojo last season. Simon Grayson however feels that he is an immense asset and would be vital to the squad in different ways. From experience to skill, this is what he had to say about the legendary national hero.

“I think I can draw from Sunil’s experience of being an icon in Indian football and at this club. I can learn about him and he’ll learn about me; my styles and how we want to coach. Hopefully, we work very closely together. I think he’s a fine role model for all the younger players. The YoYo test that we do; he’s still the last one to be doing it.

“The way he conducts himself both on and off the pitch is fantastic for younger players to see. You only have to look at his drive and ambition of wanting to be successful for this club. It’s a big key factor that he wants to win everything. In terms of every training session, every shooting competition and again that should rub off on the younger players as well.”

What Sandesh Jhingan brings to the side

Experienced Indian international Sandesh Jhingan was announced early on Sunday and left the majority of their fans stunned. Head coach Simon Grayson commended the club’s discreteness in concluding the signing.

“It’s something that’s probably been talked about for the last seven days. When I spoke to people like Sunil and other players who know him very well, they were very complimentary about his all-around footballing skills. He’s a winner, a leader, and he’s a proper defender. He knows the club as well and when I watched the clips of him, he’s exactly what I want from a defender.

“He’ll put his body on the line and he was desperate to come to the club as well which played a big part. So when he got announced this morning it was a real surprise to everybody because we kept it quiet. Then we announced him today and it was a big bonus for the supporters to see him. So (I’m) delighted for the qualities that he will bring in the competition for the players that we already have in that position.”

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