In desperate need of inspiration

Football I-League: After a good start, champions BFC have wilted and lie fifth

In desperate need of inspiration
In January when Bengaluru FC started their I-League title defence, it looked like the city side would once again be the team to beat this season.

Commanding wins in three home games first up, a cohesive unit slowly adapting to their new head coach Albert Roca’s philosophy and new signings making their presence felt with quality show, one couldn’t have asked for a better start to the campaign.

But ever since that win over Mumbai FC in January, things have gone downhill for the reigning champions. They’ve played seven games post the Mumbai tie but are yet to register a win so far. This poor run has also had a telling effect on Bengaluru’s league position. From being placed on the top of the pile after the opening three games, Roca’s side now find themselves in the fifth position with 13 points -- a staggering 11 points behind table-toppers East Bengal.

So what’s going wrong at Bengaluru? Is it the burden of expectation? Or is it the transition under a new coach? Or is it something else?

Ever since Roca took over the reins, there has been talks of Bengaluru playing the pass-and-move game. But if one was to ask Roca, he has had a different opinion. “Yes, I would like them to play my way. But that’s not possible because we’re in India. I see the players are not equipped to play that way. I think, here I’ll have to adjust to what I have,” he said in July last year.

Bengaluru FC also haven’t had the rub of the green going their way. While they were thoroughly outplayed by East Bengal last week, a momentary lapse in concentration or one wayward pass has resulted in Bengaluru’s doom more often than not.

“I think we have been unlucky. Everyone can see the way the goals were conceded.(There have been) mistakes from myself too, a mistake from another player and another odd player there. (So it’s) just general individual errors (that have cost us),” said defender John Johnson, who has been a central figure in the Bengaluru set-up.

However, their biggest concern lies in the attacking third. Though the team has created chances at will and has had 63 per cent possession on an average, they have failed to find the back of the net regularly. CK Vineeth made a good start to the season but has slowly faded away. Sunil Chhetri is a proven match-winner but expecting him to shoulder the responsibility of both the orchestrator and the deliverer is a bit too much.

Can the mid-season signing of Sebian striker Marjan Jugovic solve that problem, only time can tell. But for now, one thing is for sure, this team is not willing to surrender as off yet.
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