Need to start games with an aggressive mentality: NorthEast United FC's Paul Groves

NorthEast United FC’s assistant coach, Paul Groves, reinstated his belief in the team after a series of bad performances in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) as they face Kerala Blasters FC on Saturday.

He revealed that te team has  tweaked the crucial parts of their game ahead of the next match as they chase their first three points of the season.

NorthEast United FC missed out on picking up their first points of the season against Jamshedpur FC in their last outing that they lost 0-1.

However, Groves backed the team to turn their form around highlighting the team’s strong mentality.

Groves was accompanied by defender Gaurav Bora in the press conference who also thanked the supporters for their unconditional support.

Here are the excerpts from Groves’s press conference:

You're playing against Kerala Blasters FC and it's a match between the two bottom teams, so what are your thoughts going into the game?

Groves: I think it's a difficult game as they all are at this level. It's the game to which we look forward as a challenge. We've made preparations and tweaked things with regard to what we need to do in this game. We are looking forward to the game.

It's been a tough period for the team in the last month on and off the pitch. How difficult is it to keep the momentum, mentality, and spirit of the dressing room?

Groves: The players have been consistent and have worked very hard every single day. They have tried to implement what we've learned to do.  At times, people make mistakes, individually and collectively, be it not creating enough on the pitch or lack of quality in the final third. To be fair to the players, they have worked extremely hard as a group and tried to get a positive result for the team.

Any particular area of concern on the side?

Groves: We need to improve in terms of not conceding goals and creating more chances and then converting them. But I think one thing - you know the tough times brings us about to hopefully a tougher mentality. I hope it improves the players. The players are giving their hundred percent in every training session and every game. Sometimes, you need some luck for sure to turn things around, but it's not gonna be due to lack of effort that we fall down. In those terms, the players have been fantastic and they've been together and have worked hard together. I think that will be enough for us to get three points next time.

Your first game was high and the performance was great but after then the team's performances have been lackluster. What are the specific areas you think are the reasons for concern?

Groves: I think in the first game everybody could see that we put up a great performance. When some crucial decisions went against us, that was very difficult to handle. Since then, against East Bengal FC, we had a great percentage of possession but we came out with a poor result, not a poor performance. Hyderabad FC are the best team and they showed that when they played us. Against, Jamshedpur FC, we expected to be better and needed to improve our performance. Set plays are the department we need to improve on, that's something we've tried to address and we have tried to make sure to not concede cheap goals. I think against Jamshedpur FC there were phases where we had a good passage of play. We need to start with the belief and mentality that we can take the game to the opponent.

Do you think going on the backfoot after conceding first has impacted the team's performance this season?

Groves: Against Jamshedpur FC, the second half was a better performance. Certainly with the ball and certainly in terms of creating opportunities and we should've come out with a point. I don't think it's ideal to be chasing games but everybody can see that our fitness levels are our strengths and enable us to certainly have a go at teams, and we need to utilize this to the best of our ability and make sure we take some points out of the game.

The Highlander Brigade, your supporters’ group is enjoying its 5th anniversary on Saturday. Any message for the fans?

Groves: Hopefully, we can give them a fantastic day by bringing the three points home so they can enjoy their 5th anniversary as much as they deserve. They get behind the team on a consistent basis, through thick and thin. Hopefully, we can give them something to get behind and celebrate.

Here are excerpts from Gaurav Bora's press conference:

The team has suffered four defeats in a row. How is the mood in the dressing room and how is everyone reacting till now?

Bora: As the coach said, everyone is in good shape right now so the mentality is really good. All the foreigners and Indian players, we're thinking as a group. Whatever happened in the past is behind us and we need to rectify our mistakes in the next matches.

Any message for the fans?

Bora: We want to give something back to them because they have supported us through everything so hopefully, with a win we can give something to them to cheer about.

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