The Phoenix Plan

Bengaluru Phoenix manager Thomas Nilsson sits down with Fabio Rossi to discuss the end of this season and prospects for the squad over the offseason and into One Future Football Season 2.

Fabio Rossi: Thomas, the league table tells us that you’ve not had the season that you would have hoped for. How do you assess Bengaluru Phoenix in 1FF Season One? 
Thomas Nilsson: I see that it’s in our hands. We’re two wins away from the top 6. We’re playing a really attractive brand of football that I think the fans can see we are building to something special. 

FR: the stats are impressive; highest xG in the league, most key passes, most dribbles, lots of short passes, is this about building a Barcelona-style DNA? 
TN: We think of it as our own style. We like to keep the ball, pass short and wait for the opportunity to play key passes. But we’ve only won 4 matches, that is not where we want to be clearly. 

FR: You have a core of eleven players that you have trusted all season, plus a couple of youngsters who have stepped in a few times in Sandeep Patel and Ajay Pal, but behind those 13, it seems you don’t trust the rest of your squad? 
TN: We have to balance the fact that this is a results business, it’s a rapid season and experimentation is hard. Players get chances but yeah I agree with you, maybe we don’t have the depth that you can see in other squads. 

FR: One such player is the Italian striker Denny Pasquale. From the outside he’s exactly what you’re saying you don’t have. He’s 27 years old, Italian. Someone who knows how to score… 
TN: What’s the fact that he’s Italian got to do with it Fabio? Haha 

FR: Ha ok we can ignore that fact! But bare with me, he came off the bench for you in Round 3, you gave him 16 minutes and he scored to earn you a point. You started him the next game, he scored again and you took him off and we’ve only seen him for 12 more minutes across the rest of the season to now. He’s still your 4th highest goal scorer. Per 90 he’s the second highest rated player in the league. 
TN: I think Denny is a good player, he could be great but the system we play calls for one central striker to start and Noah Drakenburg is my pick. Noah is someone who consistently does what is asked of him. He’s got 10 goals in 17 and is the fifth-highest rated player in One Future Football. Not every player clicks in every system, not every player operates the way you need them to. Maybe Denny is one we use to facilitate a trade with another club in a few weeks. 

FR: What are you goals for the draft and what do you intend to do with the academy before Season 2 kicks off? 
TN: For the draft, it will depend. We intend to finish top-6 and so would not get one of the really early picks, but I think this off-season is a bigger chance for us to improve than most other clubs. As you mentioned we don’t have the depth we’d like, but also we feel we’ve shown prospects coming in that if they are good enough they will get a chance here, just look at the role that Ravi Dasar at 18 years old is playing for us. 
We’re especially excited for the players we can promote from our academy. We’ve had some of them joining training with the senior team. Geronimo Martins has been great getting them up to the standards that we expect. He doesn’t take it easy with them, he’s always flying into tackles and certainly doesn’t hold back, but they love him for it and we’ll be better for it. We’ll certainly be bringing at least one player into the first team squad for 1FF Season 2.
Geronimo Martins, Bengaluru Phoenix’s Brazilian midfielder