Judge the team when we start winning games: Bengaluru FC’s Simon Grayson

Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson has backed his team to come good in the second half of the season as his side hosts Hyderabad FC in matchweek 12 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Friday.

Having faced a 1-0 defeat in their reverse fixture against the reigning Hero ISL champions, the head coach said that his team faced a different scenario back then and feels his team is up for the challenge this time out. With two home games lined up in a row, the Englishman was confident of maximising his team’s performance after the topsy-turvy start to the season.

With 12 goals conceded in 10 games, the 53-year-old also commented on his side’s defensive abilities but heaped praise on custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for being a defensive wall in front of the goal and leading the team from the back.

The Blues’ head coach provided fresh inputs on the winter transfer window, the status of the injured personnel in the team, on new signing Pablo Perez, and a lot more as he addressed the media in the official pre-match press conference ahead of the Hyderabad FC game.

Here are Grayson’s excerpts from the pre-match press conference:

Last match’s win against Jamshedpur FC gave the side confidence. How confident are you against Hyderabad FC in the upcoming game?

I think we've mentioned it all season that you have to learn from each win, loss, and draw. We have to do that, there were certain aspects of last week's game which were really pleasing. There were other aspects that we still needed to improve on and maybe against different opposition last week, we may not come away with a win and that is something that would have been very disappointing because of how well we played last week.

The facts are the three games we've won this year have all been with clean sheets. So if you keep clean sheets, eradicate mistakes, you've got a far better opportunity of winning football matches.

So, if we can put the two together, clean sheets and positive attitude, which we certainly had last week, right from the start, and being a little bit more ruthless and learning from last week, regardless of who we play, and we feel that we've got a good enough team to beat anybody on that day.

Talking about Hyderabad FC, they are in a good position right now. What is your assessment of them?

I think they (Hyderabad FC) are a team that have been together a long time, and obviously won a trophy last year. Hyderabad FC have got some talented players, they've got (Barthlomew) Ogbeche to use, they’ve scored number and number of goals in this league, and they're up at the top end of the division for a reason. So it's a good test for us, but we've got to be up for that test, and I'm sure it will be.

We've got to build off last week's win. We've got to play with confidence, but not arrogance, because we certainly are nowhere near the finished article. One win doesn't turn your season around, (but) it helps. 

For the first time this season, Bengaluru FC are having back-to-back home games, with the next one being away against East Bengal FC which will be a tough game. So, how important is it for you to gain advantage of these two matchweeks?

You could sense the feel-good factor amongst the players, staff, supporters that we want and have to turn this back into the fortress because this club hasn't suffered too many defeats here. This year we've lost twice already, we don't want to be losing too many more, if any more at home because we want to make it a very difficult place for the opposition and again that starts on Friday night.

What has been your assessment of Gurpreet’s performances this season?

I think he's been really consistent, he is a leader of the group, he is a voice, he is experienced, and I think his work is really enjoyable. I'd like to think working with Andy Beasley has been a real help for Gurpreet. As well as the younger goalkeepers, who are bouncing off each other and learning all the time.

And that's what we're brought in to do as coaches, to work with our groups, to make them better, and whenever we leave the football club, they can turn around and say, he helped me improve. That’s part of our development of the Indian players as well and be very consistent and long may it continue.

With half of the season remaining, have you set any targets to reach ‘n’ number of points to reach the playoffs?

This is a new season in terms of nobody knows how many points you're going to need to get into the top six, which previously had been the top four. From where we are we've just concentrated on our next game. We have to deal with the short term and then in the short term, we'll deal with the long term after that, who knows what can happen in football.

Hyderabad FC have the best defence in the league. They have conceded just six times so far. Any special plans for a more attacking approach?

No, not really. We’ve got to play with confidence and belief. Move the ball quickly, get on the end of things, and also have a little bit of luck as well sometimes. Players can play a part in football. You look at somebody like Roy (Krishna) for example. Not much luck was there last weekend, heads it out from three yards, it hits the bar and comes out.

Hopefully, that opportunity on Thursday goes in the underside of the bar and goes in, and that's the fine margins that I spoke a lot when I've done my press. Little bit of luck, be brave on the ball, and be positive. And that's all we want to do to any team we played against, whether it’s the leading strongest defensive team or the weakest.

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