We've hit good form at the right time: Bengaluru FC's Simon Grayson
Bengaluru FC head coach Simon Grayson is confident of getting their first win against ATK Mohun Bagan in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) as the Mariners host the Blues at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday.
Bengaluru FC are currently at the peak of their form as they have won their last four matches and scored three goals in each of the last three matches. But, history doesn't paint a great picture for Bengaluru FC when they have faced ATK Mohun Bagan. The Mariners are unbeaten against the Blues so far, having won four times and drawn one. Grayson believes the records are meant to be broken and is hopeful of doing it on Sunday.
"We are going to come into the game confident after winning the four games. I am a big believer that records are there to be broken. So why not for the first time, we win against (ATK Mohun Bagan) in Kolkata. We were very respectful of the opposition. They're in a strong position in the league, but I'm sure Juan Ferrando and his team will be aware of how well we can play and the threats that we can cause to them. So I think it's going to be two good teams going head to head at the business end of the season," Grayson said in the pre-match press conference.
Grayson's team had scored only eight goals in the first 12 matches but found the net 11 times in the last four games. The Blues have been solid in the defense too as they have conceded just three goals in the last four games as against 17 goals in the first 12 games. The BFC head coach explained what led to these changes and how we believed in the players despite not winning the matches.
"Football is all about fine margins and I think early part of the season we were making the odd mistakes and getting punished for them and when we got chances to score, we didn't take those chances. But recently, we got some good results and then confidence and belief came back to the players. Now we seem to be not making too many mistakes and our strikers have found their scoring boots now and we always felt that at some stage everything would click because we were doing well in games apart from winning them. We're working hard in training and we've just hit good form at the right time of the season," he added.
This season, under Grayson, both Javi Hernandez and Roy Krishna have seven goal contributions each and have led the team's late resurgence. Interestingly, Bengaluru FC's current players like Krishna, Sandesh Jhingan, Javi Hernandez have played under Juan Ferrando at ATK Mohun Bagan. The Englishman was aware of this fact but focused more on what they can do for the club now and help them win on Sunday.
"Players who play against the former clubs, former managers, if they want to prove a point against the managers that add a little bit of extra spice there but that doesn't interest me. What they do for our club (is important) they need to be concentrated on what they need to do to be able to win a football match for us. But also to stay in my team for the next game against Kerala Blasters FC next weekend," he commented.
At the start of the season, Krishna-Sunil Chhetri duo upfront was the biggest talked point for the Blues' fans but when things were not going their way, Grayson took a bold decision of leaving out Sunil Chhetri in the starting 11 and bringing in young Sivasakthi Narayanan. It seemed to have paid dividends as Narayanan has four goals and one assist in the last four games. Beyond having statistics in his favor, the 20-year-old player has also cultivated good chemistry with Krishna. Grayson gave us a picture about the importance and influence of Chhetri in the team despite not starting the games.
"I had to make a tough call to leave him (Chhetri). Sometimes these decisions work for the team and sometimes they don't. On this occasion it worked for us because Sivasakthi came to the team and scored a few goals and got some assists as well and football is all about the team, not the individuals, but Sunil Chhetri certainly vocal in the dressing room, on the training pitch, encouraging them but still we have some self-frustration because he's not played and he wants to play every week. But he's been very good and when I look at the bench and see Chhetri and others on the bench that gives me some good options that I can bring him on, whenever we need to do," he concluded.
Parag Shrivas, the 25-year-old defender was accompanied by Grayson in the pre match press conference ahead of the game. Shrivas has been a wall in the Blues' defense as he has 10 Interceptions and 29 clearances to his name. The defender talked about the mood in the camp after four consecutive wins.
"The mood is very positive in the camp. As you can see we won four consecutive matches, so all the players and even staff members are positive at the moment. These four wins have increased our hopes for the playoffs," he said.
Both Hugo Boumous and Ashique Kuruniyan are not available for the match against Bengaluru FC due to suspensions but the Mariners have one of the strongest bench strengths in the league. Shrivas acknowledged the strengths of the opponent but was confident of winning the game for his side.
"They are a strong side from the beginning. They are currently sitting fourth in the points table. They have good players and signed the likes of Federico Gallego, Puitea, Slavko Damjanovic recently. They also have Manvir Singh, Liston Colaco. They're in good form, so I'm expecting a good game for the fans and I hope we win this game," he concluded.