ISL 2019-20: 3 Areas where Bengaluru FC must improve in the off-season
- Having dropped to their nadir, there is little doubt that Bengaluru FC won't bounce back stronger in the next edition of ISL.
Requiring just a draw or a defeat by a one-goal margin provided they scored an away goal in their second leg semi-final clash against ATK, Bengaluru FC failed to keep up to the task and crashed out of the 2019-20 season of ISL.
The club has a brilliant youth system and a robust defence. While the former ensures the Bengaluru FC first-team starters never take their place for granted, the latter makes it certain that the opposing teams don't have a stroll in the park.
Resting on these two pillars, Bengaluru FC won six trophies in the first six years since their inception. But, with time progressing, these two elements have become a necessity rather than a hallmark for any ISL club to succeed at the highest level.
Bengaluru FC still ranks as one of the top clubs in India. They have set such a high level that ending trophyless with their senior team for the first time is being considered as their lowest point.
Having dropped to their nadir, there is little doubt that they won't bounce back stronger in the next edition of the ISL.
But, here are three things Bengaluru FC must improve in the off-season.
#3 Reduce the over-reliance on Sunil Chhetri
Bengaluru FC were so dependent on Sunil Chhetri that Carles Cuadrat fielded him in the semi-final second leg despite him being seemingly unfit. The skipper was merely walking in the first half in their left channel but sprang up after the change of sides.
If Chhetri was really not fully fit, the team should have dropped him. But, considering the enormity of the situation, Bengaluru FC thought it would have been better to include him in the starting line-up nonetheless.
Hugo Boumous and Brandon Fernandes were injured for the first leg but FC Goa's interim head coach Clifford Miranda didn't hesitate to drop them from the team. That is because the Gaurs don't consider themselves to be overly reliant on a couple of players.
Chhetri helped Bengaluru FC with two crucial goals in their AFC Cup home qualifying fixture against Al-Maziya after coming on from the bench. While having an authoritarian figure in the field can prove to be resourceful, the team shouldn't be overly reliant on him.
#2 Boast a more attacking approach after taking the lead
Against ATK in both the legs, Bengaluru FC decided to sit back and defend the one-goal lead. While it paid dividends in their home leg, it backfired in front of the boisterous Kolkata fans.
At one point of time, the Bengaluru FC players were even defending with six players at the back. Such a highly defensive approach may be successful against teams who lack an in-form striker, say NorthEast United FC or Hyderabad FC.
But, this tactic won't be useful against teams like ATK who would take any opportunity to venture forward.
The majority of Bengaluru FC's goals have come from set-pieces and the team should have more avenues to find the back of the net.
#1 Buy someone of the ilk of Xisco Hernandez and Miku
The two problems discussed above can be solved by bringing onboard someone of the ilk of Xisco Hernandez or Miku. In the absence of the two, Bengaluru FC played without an attacking midfielder and an out-and-out striker for the majority of the season.
It caused them to be too defensive and depend on set-pieces or the brilliance of Sunil Chhetri to score goals. But, the presence of an attacking midfielder will create more outlets from open play and the striker can again push Chhetri to play on the left flank where he has thrived as a second striker.
Using an attacking midfielder and a striker has turned out to be a catalyst for teams like Chennaiyin FC (Rafael Crivellaro and Nerijus Valskis) and FC Goa (Hugo Boumous and Ferran Corominas).
Bengaluru FC's head coach Carles Cuadrat said at the post-match press conference that not retaining Xisco and Miku was a business decision. It is time the management rethinks their strategy.Published 09 Mar 2020, 20:26 IST