The Blues have failed match their earlier heights in the ISL ever since the Venezuelan marksman departed.
During his time at Bengaluru FC, Miku was one of the best players in the Indian Super League. With his performances, the Venezuelan proved that he was a level above 95% of players in the league. However, he left the club after two seasons, winning an Indian Super League title in his time. His departure has left a gaping hole in the Bengaluru squad, as they have struggled for goals and to replace him. We look at five reasons why BFC have struggled to replace Miku. The data used in the article has been sourced from Wyscout.
1.Miku was not just a goalscorer
One of the reasons why Bengaluru FC have found it difficult to replace Miku is that the Venezuelan was not just a goalscorer. He got involved in the build-up, dropping deep to receive the ball, spraying through balls to runners in the channels. In the 2018-19 season of the ISL, the former Deportivo La Coruna forward made 0.97 key passes in the league, the highest among forwards with more than 500 minutes played.
He was comfortable receiving the ball in and around the penalty box. The Venezuelan also attempted the most dribbles among the forwards in the league. His ability on the ball, coupled with his knack of goalscoring made him a key cog in Bengaluru’s system. BFC failed to replace this aspect of Miku’s game in the next seasons.
2.Miku elevated the game of others around him
In a way, Miku was the perfect striker for the BFC system. His hold-up play and his passing were key to the team’s attacking game. Miku had a great connection with Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh in particular. With Miku holding up the ball and putting through balls to Chettri on the left and Udanta Singh on the right, BFC were devastating on the counter in their defence first approach. Miku was a monster in winning offensive duels, leading the league in the metric.
This aided Chettri and Udanta in building up a telepathic connection, as they had the confidence in Miku retaining the ball in a duel. It is no surprise that Udanta had his best seasons when Miku was at BFC and it is also worth noting that he has failed to reach those heights ever since. With Miku, the club could afford to play Chettri on the left, but doing the same with the others hasn’t worked so far.
3. Players signed to replace Miku have failed to reach those levels
Miku, in his two years at Bengaluru FC, scored 20 goals in the ISL. It was always going to be tough for the club to replace a player of his ability. The ex-Valencia forward was strong in the air, could hold the ball well and was comfortable with the ball at his feet. However, his replacements at the club in the next seasons have found it difficult to hit the Venezuelan’s levels. Until the signing of Cleiton Silva, the other strikers who played for BFC in this period were primarily target men and depended on service to get goals unlike Miku.
The likes of Deshorn Brown, Manuel Onwu and Kristian Opseth are all traditional centre-forwards, with their primary strengths being their ability in the box and in the air. Their limitations on the ball affected the form of the likes of Udanta on the wings, as they failed to replicate Miku’s involvement in the build-up. They are strikers who expected service rather than being involved in receiving the ball deep. This has affected BFC’s attacking game. You can say that this is poor recruitment from a club like the Blues.
4. Lack of proper creators in the squad
During Miku’s time at Bengaluru FC the whole offence went through him. He could carry the club’s entire attack. This allowed BFC to rely on a defence first approach, expecting Miku to weave his magic and get through in attack. But, with his departure, it created a hole in the playmaking aspect of the team’s game too. The Blues do not have someone like Brandon Fernandes in their ranks. The current crop of Indian midfielders is different from what it was two years ago.
The current ones are comfortable with the ball at their feet, but most of them were runners when Miku played at Bengaluru. The likes of Harmanjot Khabra were more involved off the ball than on the ball. Even now, Suresh Singh Wangjam is more of a runner compared to his other Indian counterparts. So, BFC essentially failed to replace two parts of their game after Miku’s exit i.e. goalscoring and playmaking.
5. Other issues popping up in the squad and other teams improving
When Miku was at his best, the other clubs were still figuring out their teams and vision. However, BFC had the advantage of being clear in their defence first approach. This and the other issues in defence and midfield have not allowed the Blues to fully reinvest in signing a like-for-like replacement for Miku.
Bengaluru FC’s midfield is getting older and the technical quality of their squad has declined in the last few years. The likes of Erik Paartalu and Dimas Delgado have slowed down due to their age and this has affected their midfield. When your base gets affected, the team’s form comes down as a result. This is also one of the reasons why BFC have struggled to replace Miku.
Cleiton Silva has shown promising signs that he can replicate Miku for BFC, but only time will tell.