Teething troubles: What’s ailing Roy Krishna at Bengaluru FC?

Roy Krishna has been synonymous with goals in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) since joining the league in 2019.

The Fijian has scored 37 goals in 66 Hero ISL matches, helping his ATK FC side to the title in the Hero ISL 2019-20 season before pushing ATK Mohun Bagan to the final a year later. 

Even with slightly less game time in Hero ISL 2021-22 compared to his previous two seasons, Krishna found the net seven times, portraying a high goals-per-game ratio of 0.44.

His 56 goal contributions are second only to Bartholomew Ogbeche and Ferran Corominas in the league’s history, making him one of the most fearsome strikers to have played in the Hero ISL. 

So when Bengaluru FC signed him ahead of the 2022-23 season, they expected him to be a readymade solution to their goal scoring woes, which have plagued them in the past few seasons. 

However, it hasn’t panned out that way for the Fijian and Bengaluru FC. The striker hasn’t quite hit the form everyone had seen him achieve in the colours of ATK FC and ATK Mohun Bagan.

Krishna has just one goal and an assist to his name in the Hero ISL this season. He hasn’t been himself in the blue of Bengaluru FC, which reflects in his shooting accuracy of just 8% this season compared to 22% in his overall Hero ISL career. 

He is averaging 0.17 goals per game compared to his Hero ISL career ratio of 0.56. 

However, the Fijian’s troubles aren’t only down to drop in individual form but also due to the system deployed at Bengaluru FC. 

At ATK FC and ATK Mohun Bagan, Krishna was the ultimate finisher and the focal point of attack. They were players who constantly looked to feed the Fijian, allowing him to activate his skills in the box to devastating effect. 

At Bengaluru FC, the situation is a bit different. 

“I don't think it's so much down to Roy Krishna but the way Simon Grayson wants them to play. I think with ATK Mohun Bagan, he was given the license to just solely play there up top and be that focal point. He had players there that would give him the ball much quicker and players that understood the system that was in place for him,” Hero ISL expert and commentator Paul Masefield commented. 

“At Bengaluru FC, there is a different type of formation that Simon Grayson plays. It's more a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3. So, he has to adapt, and get involved a little bit more,” he added. 

In Kolkata, there was a purpose behind every move that Krishna made on the football field, which hasn’t been the case at Bengaluru FC as he is still learning about his teammates. 

“He knew his role at ATK Mohun Bagan and knew when and where to make runs, confident a colleague would find him in the right place at the right time to convert. Krishna's start to life in Bengaluru has been underwhelming, but that can happen and often does to the very best,” noted Hero ISL commentator and expert John Helm. 

“He has taken a while to be on the same wavelength as Javi Hernandez who is Bengaluru FC's most creative player. But they have only started a handful of games together and even in that humbling defeat in Mumbai, there were signs of a partnership beginning to flourish. So Krishna will start scoring and find the net soon enough,” Helm added. 

Grayson’s struggles to play a consistent XI at Bengaluru FC have also not helped Krishna’s case. Bengaluru FC have played 3-4-3, 3-5-2, 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 formations at different junctures this season. Krishna’s partners and his role has been changing regularly, making it difficult for him to develop an understanding with his fellow attacking players or get used to any playing system.

Krishna had Sivasakthi Narayanan as his most regular partner at BFC, followed by Sunil Chhetri. Recently, he has had to play as a lone striker, with Javi Hernandez supporting him in the hole. All his partners have been equally inconsistent this season which has compounded his troubles.

But despite the lack of goals, the Fijian’s hunger to give his best hasn’t gone away. He keeps putting in a shift for his team and has been among the top five runners for his team in two out of the last four matches. It is a positive sign for Grayson to see his forward put in the hard yards on the pitch, as a chance for someone of his quality will soon fall to him. 

“He hasn't been that bad this year, he just has had different players to play with this year. He works hard, he is still getting into positions to score. He is assisting his teammates, I don't see Krishna staying quiet for long on the score sheet,” noted Hero ISL commentator and expert Erik Paartalu. 

Masefield agrees with Paartalu, suggesting it was just a matter of time before the goals started flowing again from Krishna’s boots. 

“For me, it's just a matter of time before Krishna starts scoring goals. He is a renowned goalscorer and he knows where the back of the net is. You can never fault him for one thing and that is his work rate. If he continues to work as hard as he is and he is putting in a shift in each game, the goals will come,” said Masefield. 

Krishna needs a spark to ignite his season, and he could be a different player than he has been so far. The visit of his former club ATK Mohun Bagan to the Sree Kanteerava stadium might give him the impetus to go that extra mile and prove a point to his former employers. 

The Bengaluru FC faithful will be cheering him on from the stands to get their star striker firing on all cylinders, as once he gets going, Bengaluru FC will appear a different team. The Hero ISL has witnessed how an on-song Roy Krishna is an asset to the team he plays for, and who better to vouch for it than ATK Mohun Bagan, Bengaluru FC’s next opponents.

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