In a bid to replicate their dominance at the Premier League and A-League in India, the City Football Group (CFG) chose Mumbai City FC of the Indian Super League. Prior to the 2020-21 season, Islanders were largely limited to an ‘also-ran’ for the past six seasons with rare playoff appearances reflecting their erratic management style.
However, with a proven manager at the helm and some of the best players of the league lured into the team this season, Mumbai City are considered the title contenders even before ISL starts on November 20.
Mumbai City FC fans would be excited, to put it mildly, with the on-field and off-field changes their beloved club has gone through over the last few months. An even more exciting part would be seeing a complete change in the club’s approach to the tournament with Sergio Lobera at the helm.
FAREWELL TO COUNTERS
When the time came for Mumbai City FC to look for a man who could lend the perfect identity to the club, their choice was simple. It had to be the manager who was able to score five goals past MCFC on three different occasions, over the past three seasons. For MCFC fans, who were largely acquainted with a rigid, defensive style of football so far, especially under Jorge Costa who only knew to hurt his opponents on the counter, Sergio Lobera would be like a breath of fresh air.
Since taking over FC Goa in 2017-18, Lobera’s tiki-taka style of play has seen his team making 28,403 passes in 56 games, with a total of 738 shots on targets. And a closer look at MCFC’s defensive imports – Mandar Rao Desai, Ahmed Jahouh and Mourtada Fall – indicates efficient on-the-ball players who would play from the back for the perfect buildup.
GOALS AND MORE GOALS
Even in Jorge Costa’s best season with MCFC in 2018-19, which had seen Moudou Sougou and Arnold Issoko scoring goals almost at will, Goa had outscored Mumbai by 11 goals. With a fifth-place finish last season, MCFC had scored 25 goals which were only better than the bottom three sides – Jamshedpur FC, NorthEast United FC and Hyderabad FC.
However, MCFC fans can bid adieu to those days because the single biggest guarantee that Lobera will give his fans ahead of the 2020-21 season is goals. Over his three seasons in Goa, Lobera’s men had scored a whopping 116 goals in 56 games. Though Lobera will be without his trusted goalscorer Ferran Corominas upfront, the likes of Hugo Boumous and Barthomelow Ogbeche are more than capable of getting the job done.
IS THE TITLE INCOMING?
Despite all the optimism pointed above, Sergio Lobera still remains without an ISL trophy. The Spaniard has reached three play-offs and one final so far in the tournament and he cannot still boast of the silverware that matters the most. Mumbai City FC will definitely be wary of his limitations as they embark on a new journey that is expected to change the football scene in the country.
Having won 29 of the 56 matches in charge, Lobera has a 53% winning ratio, which is slightly lower than Chennaiyin FC’s Owen Coyle. Lobera’s side has lost 11 games so far, while drawing on 16 occasions and with defending champions ATK Mohun Bagan also bolstering up this summer, MCFC won’t exactly expect a free run at the title. Lobera might have won the most number of points (94) in the ISL league stages, but the Spaniard is yet to prove himself as a shrewd tactician in knockout ties.
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