“After deep deliberation with the management, we feel the club needs to head in a new direction – one where the ethos and philosophy of Bengaluru FC begins reflecting again”
These were the exact words of Bengaluru FC owner Parth Jindal after the club decided to part ways with head coach Carles Cuadrat. The Blues are in dire need of a new direction, something that had started to seem apparent last season and has become clear as day this term. In the Indian Super League (ISL) this season, they have 12 points from nine games and although they are 5th in the table, their performances have been a bit of an eyesore.
Cuadrat’s side started their campaign with a 6-game unbeaten streak that sort of papered over some of the deficiencies in the squad, especially in attack. However, three back-to-back defeats since then and the team’s spiritless display in all of them would have worried the senior management as well as fans. Therefore, it didn’t come as a huge surprise when they decided to let go of the coach who gave the club their first ISL title.
The gradual decline in the efficiency of Cuadrat’s gameplay had become obvious in the last 18 months. Last season, only the bottom two teams scored fewer goals than Bengaluru in the league stage, who got 17 of their 22 goals through set-play situations. The same has been true in ISL 2021 as well, with the team scoring just 12 goals in as many games, 9 of them through set-pieces. Their offensive play has been laboured at best and only Cleiton Silva has popped up from time to time with something ingenious.
Their defence, which was the main reason for their passage to the playoffs last season, seems to have deteriorated too. They have conceded 12 already, which is one less than what they conceded in the whole of last season’s group stages. Clearly, the departure of Albert Sorran, Nishu Kumar and John Johnson has hurt the team badly with their replacements, Pratik Chaudhari, Fran Gonzalez and Ajith Kumar yet to impress.
The lack of width is another aspect that Cuadrat has struggled with. Ashique Kuruniyan and Udanta Singh are the only outright wingers in the side. With Ashique out injured and Udanta off colour, their attacks have mostly been dependent on Dimas Delgado’s passing through the middle. While that has worked against the smaller sides, they have been found out against the bigger teams. Moreover, two seasons on, they are yet to replace the brilliance of Miku with both Deshorn Brown and Kristian Opseth looking ineffective so far.
Going forward, interim head coach Naushad Moosa has to ensure that he quickens up their passing in the attacking third and improves their finishing. Recruitment will be key as well, as the club looks to bring in a couple of players, especially a left back and a winger. Although the road ahead seems difficult, a champion team like Bengaluru FC can’t be put down for long but for them to be back at their best, a lot of things need to improve drastically.