Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson believes that their one week break in between the fixtures came at the best time and stated that the players have worked extremely hard during that period. The Blues clash against old foes East Bengal FC in matchweek 6 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Friday.

Grayson added that, irrespective of the rivalry between the two sides, the players need to put in their best efforts and come out victorious. While learning more about his side, the league, the system, and the environment, the Englishman also forewarned his players to be better in the final third and supply the attackers with the right deliveries in order to score goals and achieve the desired results.

In addition, the Blues’ head coach spoke about finding a workaround to the team’s issues, on playing their second home game after a long break, and a lot more as he attended the official pre-match press conference ahead of the East Bengal FC match.

Here are the excerpts from his press conference:

A week off coming into this game. So, how was it for the team with the training, rest and recovery?

I think it’s been really good for us, if we were to have a break between the last fixture and this fixture, probably, this was the best time for us because we had a lot of injuries going into the Odisha game. Hopefully, by Friday, we’ll have a lot more players available in key areas of the pitch. It’s allowed us to get a lot of good work into the players on the training pitch as well in the last ten days or so.

Full credit to the players who have worked extremely hard during this period of time on tactical, technical, and conditioning work as well. Overall, I’m very pleased with what we’ve done in this break since the Odisha game.

This is an encounter which has a bit of a rivalry to it. East Bengal FC haven’t come to Bengaluru in a really long time. Have you had the chance to speak to people in the team and understand what the match means to them?

No, not really. I think every game that you’re involved in, whether it’s a rivalry or a local derby, it’s about putting in the work to win the game. Players will know certain players they’ve played with before, whether they were teammates or opponents. The past is history, whatever results have happened in the past, you cannot let that affect Friday night’s game. We are trying to win the match with a group of players that are available.

Does the lack of goals worry you a bit?

I’ve said it all along, I’m still learning about the players, I’m still learning about the Hero ISL as well: the standards, the systems, the environment, the conditions that you have to play in as well. We had a really good pre-season in playing a 3-5-2 in difficult heat conditions in Kolkata, and then we went to a back four and played a different system against Odisha, with players going further up the pitch with more balls and supplies. So, I’m learning about the situation. I think we will chop and change the system over the next few weeks and months without a shadow of doubt but having more players available is good.

We certainly have players in our squad that are capable of scoring goals and getting lots of assists because the records speak for itself. So, that isn’t a concern as such but we need to be better at the top end of the pitch and supply them. We could have Ronaldo or Messi up the pitch but if we don’t get the ball to them in the right areas with the right delivery, the right pass, the right cross, then they’re not going to get the service that they can thrive on. So, that’s obviously something that we have to work on as well and we’ve done a lot of work on that.

Bengaluru FC have two goals in four games and you’ve talked about not getting the balls in the important areas. So, how important is Javi’s (Hernandez) role in that aspect now that he’s recovered from injury?

Oh it’s everybody, it doesn’t matter if it’s just Javi. He’s got a fantastic ability and I’m sure that he’s got lots of assists and can score from distance, but he’s not the only player, there are wide players, wing-backs, full-backs, the midfield players being more positive with the forward passing, and we need more movement in the top end of the pitch, with players making forward runs.

So, there’s lots of things that have to happen to bring more creativity in the team and I think the one thing we’ve spoken about as a group is that we have to have a more positive attitude, more confidence and belief in each individual. If we get a 1v1 situation, be positive, take somebody on; you’ve got half a yard in the box, take a shot, don’t pass it to somebody else, take (that) responsibility. So, there's the positive attitude and technical issues as well.

This is the second home game of the season for you. How eager are you to get back and how important is the home game for you?

I certainly can’t wait and I’m sure the players can’t wait as well. The fixture list has not been kind to us, playing three of the first four games away from home, we’d been involved in very close games and the results could’ve gone either way without being too creative, we’ve been solid defensively, limited Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC to very few opportunities, and after we suffered 1-0 defeats, both teams went to the top end of the table, that shows we’ve played against teams who are in-form.

To come back to our home ground will be a different environment and a different mindset for everybody. It’s not been easy, we have the home game and then we have two more away games back-to-back, we go to Mumbai and then we go to Goa which are certainly big games and before you know it, we’re back for another home game here, having played three home games in eight matches. So, we’re going to have some home games after the turn of the year where we know that this place is a really positive environment to bounce off the energy the supporters give us.

I think it isn’t easy, most people will agree, coaches will agree, going to away grounds and getting results isn’t easy because you’re away from home and there’s a different environment. It was different from the bubble in the last two years where there were no crowds. We can't wait to get back out here on Friday night and play with a real positive attitude and energy. We want to bounce off the energy that the supporters can give us.

You spoke about being proactive and taking more risks as a team. Does it help that you’re playing another pragmatic team in the Hero ISL?

Watching Stephen Constantine’s teams, they have a certain way of playing, a 4-4-2, and by the looks of it, they look like a settled team. They play quite deep, even in their recent home game, and look to play through a counter-attack. So, we’ve got to try and find different ways of winning matches, doesn’t matter if you play a game against a counter-attacking team or if it’s a game against ATK Mohun Bagan or Mumbai City FC the other day, where it’s like a basketball match, you’ve got to try and find different ways and solutions of winning matches.

That’s what we’ve all talked about and touched upon in the last week, and there’s a real positive feeling about the players. We’re a team that have won only one game in four games, but it doesn’t feel that way. It’s a really close group, everything that I’ve asked them to do over the last few 10 days or so, players have embraced it, hard work, technical, tactical work, and that can take you a long way. So, we’re very pleased in that aspect.

As I said, whenever you’re playing against somebody, you have got to find different ways and solutions to win football matches. If that means a shot from distance that hits someone's backside and goes in for a 1-0 win, we'll take that at this moment in time to break our run of two defeats. However, we want to play attractive football, high-tempo and with good quality.