Our supporters got us through a very tough game: Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson
Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson expressed his delight at starting the new Hero Indian Super League (ISL) campaign with a win against a very good NorthEast United FC team that pushed them to the wire.
Alan Costa’s goal in the 87th minute settled the contest but not before NorthEast United FC saw a goal being disallowed in the dying minutes of the match.
The Blues fans made it a spectacle at the Sree Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru where they were able to welcome back fans after a gap of two years.
Grayson praised the supporters for pushing the team and helping them get over the line and begin the season with a win.
The Englishman spoke to the media after the match.
Here are the excerpts from the press conference:
How do you sum up the match?
It was eventful, tiring, and exhausting. There was everything in the match which we probably expected. It was a great atmosphere from our supporters. There was no shortage of incidents and opportunities. From a coach's perspective, I'd like a little bit of an easier match. I thought we started the game really well, created some good chances, and missed a couple of decent chances which normally we would expect to score. NorthEast United FC looked like a good team. They hit us on the counter-attack a few times and kept asking questions but our supporters got us through the game. In the last ten minutes, we got the goal and then we are thinking we have conceded. We ride our luck a little bit but it's about winning football matches and I'm delighted that we have won.
Sivasakthi was a real handful for the NorthEast United FC defenders. How do you sum up his performance?
He is lively, he has earned the right to play because of his performances in the Durand Cup, his goals, and his application in training. The biggest surprise was that he didn't score the couple of opportunities that he had tonight because he is a threat. He knows where the goal is but if he gets into these positions then he scores more goals than he misses. He is a constant threat and gives us something different compared to the more experienced players -- Sunil Chhetri and Roy Krishna. I thought there were some really decent performances from the young players. Roshan (Naorem) in the first half was unplayable. So, overall pleased with the younger players, pleased with the experienced players but more delighted about getting three points in the first home game.
"The atmosphere was fantastic at the stadium"— Indian Super League (@IndSuperLeague) October 8, 2022
🗣️ Simon Grayson heaped praise on the support from @WestBlockBlues after his side's dramatic win against #NorthEastUnitedFC! 🙌#BFCNEU #HeroISL #LetsFootball #BengaluruFC pic.twitter.com/C7OMeMZ0rr
We saw Sunil Chhetri play a slightly different role. He was tracking back. What do you make of his performance?
We started the game with Sivasakthi and Roy (Krishna) upfront and with Sunil (Chhetri) playing as a No 10. We had done that quite a bit in the Durand Cup. Javi joined back us in training after 4-5 weeks out, so he wasn't really fit to start. You want your best players on the pitch in central areas that can create opportunities and hopefully take chances. We changed our system midway through the second half and went to 4-4-2 and brought different personnel on to get something out of the game. Chhetri then played a little bit deeper off Sivasakthi. As I said before Sivasakthi gives you something different with his pace, and his running while the other two are a little bit more clever. The years are catching up on them a little bit but they know where the back of the net is and how the game should be played.
NorthEast United FC caused you problems on the counter-attack. So what did you change defensively in the second half?
The longer the game went without us scoring, the more vulnerable we became. We started off well, pushing bodies forward to get us the first goal which will settle us down and that didn't quite come. But by doing that you leave yourself vulnerable to the counter-attack which they certainly did very well with pacy players who could ask questions of you but we kept the clean sheet and that's all that matters. NorthEast United FC were an unknown quantity because of a new coach and new players and they would have impressed a lot of people. We have come through a really tough game and got the three points.
What is your take on the fans?
It was brilliant. We could sense the atmosphere building from the time we got here at 5:45, a long time before kick-off and they got behind us. We wanted to get the early goal to get the crowd going but they stayed with us. The noise they made with sort of ten minutes to go lifted the players when we couldn't really find a way of getting through them and it lifted the players. Then we got the goal and then the atmosphere was up and down because of their disallowed goal. But it was a great celebration in the end. Nights like these are for the fans. I watched the Kerala Blasters game. The atmosphere there must have been brilliant. It must be the same every game because the supporters missed their football and we just want to give them something to cheer about. You enjoy nights like these but you also got to remember you have another game next week which will be slightly different.
What do you make of the tactical flexibility of this team? You went from a back three to a back four and that got you the goal.
I have always been a flexible coach and we have got players that can adapt and go into a back four and give us a different option. Udanta came on on the left-hand side and was really lively. Javi came in on the right-hand side. The two players were slightly different. I have different permutations. Other managers maybe stick to the same formation. Sometimes you have got to find different ways of winning football matches and we have done that tonight.