Simon Grayson takes charge as head coach of Bengaluru FC as Marco Pezzaiuoli departs the club

Hero Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Bengaluru FC have appointed Englishman Simon Grayson as the club’s new head coach ahead of the Hero ISL 2022-23 season, on a two-year contract, the club announced it on their social media handles on Wednesday.

Grayson, who has over 500 appearances as a player in England’s top divisions, moved into management in 2004 and has since overseen the promotion of four teams in the English Division, in a managerial career that has spanned across 728 games and seven clubs.

“Coming to India was a possibility that I had looked into two years ago. But the pandemic put all things on hold. When the chance came across again, I was excited to look into it. This presents a new opportunity in my football career and it is one that really excites me,” said Grayson, after completing the formalities on his deal.

“When I spoke to the owner, his mindset was the same as mine. I want this club to be winning trophies again. I am aware that BFC has been very successful in the past but the last few years haven’t worked out like everybody would have liked it to. That happens in football - you learn from it and strive to do better - to get players to work harder on the pitch and off the pitch; that’s the exciting part for me,” said Grayson.

Grayson, who hails from North Yorkshire, has overseen the promotion of four teams in the English Division; Blackpool in 2007, Leeds United in 2010, Huddersfield Town in 2012 and Preston North End in 2015. He had short spells at Sunderland, Bradford City and Blackpool before most recently taking charge of Fleetwood Town in League One.

The fifty-two-year-old said he was impressed by the little he’s managed to see of the team from last season, and is confident that the blend of youth and experience in the Blues’ ranks will serve as a good base from where the club can build.

“BFC have some very good young players coming through from the academy and hopefully they’ve learned from their minutes in the first team last season. I truly believe that they can be a massive asset to the football club, and coupled with the players who join, I think this is the perfect opportunity for me, especially because it will be a football season with the supporters. I’m coming not just to spend a period of time learning football in a different country. I’m coming here to win trophies at what is a fantastic football club,” added Grayson.

As a player, Grayson came through the youth ranks at Leeds United, moving on to Leicester City in 1992, where he made over 220 appearances across five seasons. With Leicester, he secured promotion to the Premier League as captain and also won the English League Cup in 1997, scoring in the semifinal against Wimbledon.

This comes on the back of the announcement of the departure of Marco Pezzaiuoli as the head coach of the club as he won’t be continuing his journey in India in the next season. The announcement came through a post from Bengaluru FC's social media handles on Wednesday.

Coming through the ranks of German U-17, and U-19 units, Marco Pezzaiuoli's appointment brought about a lot of expectations in and among the Indian football fans. Pezzaiuoli took over the duties from Naushad Moosa after the Durand Cup, taking the Blues to the AFC Cup Group stages. But the team was ousted after getting only four points from three games. However, being on a performance-based contract Pezzaiuoli did not perform quite well in the first half, maybe because of lack of experience in India.

Pezzaiuoli could not change Bengaluru’s fortunes in the Hero ISL as they finished sixth in the points table and yet again failed to make the top four. The 53-year-old won just eight games out of the twenty he managed.

Marco had signed a three-year performance-based contract last year and it could have worked out different had the Blues made the cut to the top four in Hero ISL 2021-22 season.

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