Need to sample more of such performances in the future: BFC head coach Simon Grayson

Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson was extremely proud of his players for their dedication in their 2-0 win against FC Goa in matchweek 8 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Goa, on Saturday.

BFC midfielder Javi Hernandez scored a goal in each half as his team ended their 4-game goalless drought while also keeping a clean sheet to go home with all three points. The victory marked the Blues 50th win in the history of the Hero ISL.

Grayson hailed this victory as a massive one and lauded the spirit within the team after a run of tough results. The Englishman wants his team to keep playing in such manner and maintain it for the upcoming games. The BFC head coach addressed the media in the official post-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts:

How did you motivate your players before that performance?

The motivation came after what we discussed in the dressing room post the match against Mumbai City FC. I was very critical of the players, and the one thing that we did in the week was work extremely hard on the training pitch. There is a very good spirit within this group anyway, and I asked them to throw back at me a few words that I said in the last week and make me have a bit of humble pie, and the players have done that.

As critical as I was of them last week, I cannot be more proud of them tonight because everyone worked extremely hard and won the individual battles, and when he had to play free flowing football, we did loads and loads of that today. Hopefully this is a small step in moving forward. The shape was good, and when it mattered, we took our chances.

How important is today’s win for your team?

It is massive, and when you have lost four games in a row, it is not good enough. We all were under pressure and I know about the pressure I have upon myself every time I coach them on the training pitch rather than the situation in the match.

But tonight was a fantastic feeling, and Sandesh Jhingan summed it up on the pitch at the end when they made a huddle. We had this feeling for a few weeks, and hopefully we will try and sample it more in the future as it has been tough for everybody. The confidence has not been as high as it should be. The individual mistakes have cost us in nearly the last four to five games, and tonight, when we needed the players to defend the 18-yard box, they did it very well, and when the chances came, we were very clinical.

How tough is it to keep a player like Sunil Chhetri on the bench?

It is very tough because he is an icon of Indian football, and the one thing that I will say is that he has been a proper professional, backing the team on and off the field or during the huddle, and he is another fantastic player to work with. I change things to try and find a way for Sunil Chhetri to win matches, but sometimes we need to make the big decisions, and leaving out Chhetri is one of the biggest decisions I had to make as a coach in my career of 20-odd years.

Javi Hernandez has always been under media scrutiny. How do you think he has answered it on the pitch?

He is one of the players who was held accountable for criticism last week. A lot of players did not influence the game like they should have against Mumbai City FC. Tonight, Javi showed his quality with two goals and the composure with which he took the ball in tight areas. We want Javi to get a run in games, he has had a stop start after the pre-season and the birth of his child in Madrid, which did not allow him to be with the team, and to be fair, he did not train until Thursday after last week’s game due to an injury.

As we are approaching the end of the first half of the league, how does the team re-strategise to try and get higher up the standings?

We have been very confident in the dressing room with the players and with where we want to get to. This league is very competitive, and anybody can beat anyone on any given day, that is why it is so tight. If we get back to back wins next week against ATK Mohun Bagan, which is another massive game, then all of a sudden we are very close to where we want to be and can doom and gloom the negativity. This is football, and we have to ride the roller coaster through the highs and lows of it all.

We cannot rest thinking this is one performance, but back it up next week with a good game. Up until the second half against Mumbai City FC, our home form has been good, so we are not too far away, and it is just the mistakes we need to minimise and create opportunities. We need to keep the clean sheets and enjoy the moments as we try to train for the next game.

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