Hero ISL experience has made me a better coach and person: Bengaluru FC's Simon Grayson
Simon Grayson arrived at Bengaluru FC during a transition period, as the team had failed to make it to the playoffs for the last two seasons. Grayson’s impact has been felt within the squad since day one – something that rejuvenated the Blues after a long time.
Simon Grayson arrived at Bengaluru FC during a transition period, as the team had failed to make it to the playoffs in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) for the previous two seasons.
The Englishman guided Bengaluru FC to their first Durand Cup trophy, three months after his arrival at the club. However, his start to the Hero ISL was rocky, with the Blues finding themselves in the bottom half of the league at the end of the first leg. Many questioned whether Grayson was the right man for the job.
But the former Leeds United manager did not give up, and he set about turning things around. He implemented a new style of play and the transformation was remarkable to see.
Bengaluru FC enjoyed a 10-match winning streak and went on to finish as runners-up in the Hero ISL after losing 4-3 on penalties to ATK Mohun Bagan.
The Blues maintained their impressive form in the Hero Super Cup, advancing to their third final of the campaign. However, they ultimately fell short again, losing 2-1 to Odisha FC in the summit clash.
In an interview with BFC TV, Grayson opened up about his decision to take up the managerial position at Bengaluru FC and how the decision played out over the course of the season.
“I came to Bengaluru FC with an open mind of not really knowing what to expect, again, professionally and personally. But what I can is, from day one, everybody has made me feel so welcome within the football club,” Grayson started speaking.
“Overall, it's been an amazing adventure and experience. I certainly won't ever regret coming. That's why I said to people, if other people had the opportunity to come to India professionally and personally as well, to explore the country, I would encourage it without a shadow of a doubt,” he added further.
The ninth season of the Hero ISL saw the return of the fans in the stadium after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 53-year-old, who loves travelling to new cities and experiencing new cultures and traditions, reminisced about visiting some of the iconic architectural landmarks in India.
“I've been very fortunate that with football we've been able to see go to different cities. When we have had a little bit of spare time being able to go off and sample different cultures and museums and the Taj Mahal. Up in Kolkata, I saw the Queen Victoria Memorial. In Delhi, a few other things as well. It has been an unbelievable experience and if you throw in the mix of the football side, it's been one hell of a year,” Grayson stated.
Grayson, who has football running through his veins, stated that it has been a very steep learning curve for him, but he is still learning about Indian football. However, he is eager to continue learning and improving in his second season as the manager.
“I'm still learning about the football in India. You have to learn every day and learn from good and bad experiences. Be open-minded, as I mentioned, to embrace new ideas from different people, but also test myself from a coaching point of view where I was completely out of my comfort zone, not knowing what the players were really going to be like on a one to one basis, what makes them become better players emotionally and physically and tactically as well,” Grayson opined.
After spending his entire football career in England, Grayson made the bold decision to step out of his comfort zone and embark on a new adventure in the Hero ISL. He described the experience as 'incredible' after wrapping up a successful first season in Indian football.
“The easiest thing for me to do with my football career was to stay at home and just do what I've normally done for nearly the last 20 years. But this has been an incredible experience that has certainly made me a far better coach and a far better person. I hope this continues for however long I stay in India,” Grayson concluded.
Watch the full video here:
"The easiest thing for me would've been to stay home and do what I did for 20 years. This has been an amazing adventure."— Bengaluru FC (@bengalurufc) May 10, 2023
In EP1 of #SimonSays, the gaffer spoke to BFC TV about his experience in India, exploring cities, cultures, football and more. 🗣#WeAreBFC #NothingLikeIt pic.twitter.com/4cn83mp7fa