The Spanish manager is not willing to underestimate the struggling Men of Steel for their upcoming game.

ATK Mohun Bagan is looking to maintain their winning run in the Indian Super League (ISL) when they face a struggling Jamshedpur FC on Thursday. Coach Juan Ferrando speaks on ATK Mohun Bagan’s strategy against Jamshedpur.

The Mariners have won their last three home games and boast a solid record at the Salt Lake Stadium this season.

Ferrando not taking Jamshedpur for granted

Despite facing a Jamshedpur FC side that has lost their last six games, Juan Ferrando is not taking the visitors lightly. Juan Ferrando said before the game: “They won the championship the last season and we have a lot of respect for them. They have a good squad because barring a few players, their squad has remained the same from last season.

“It’s a difficult match for us, I’m not thinking it’ll be an easy match. It’s important to control the details because this season because maybe this season, their performances haven’t been the best – but it must be remembered that they drew against Mumbai away from home. They lose games in some details, so it’s not an easy match for tomorrow,” he further opined.

When asked if he is hoping for his side to have a better positional finish this season than last season, he stated: “For us, the most important is to do our best in every game and to improve some details in every match. Every game is totally different because sometimes teams change some points and it’s necessary for us to change too. My focus is on my team, we need to improve in some offensive details and of course in the end, our target is to get three points.”

Reason behind consistency issue

ATK Mohun Bagan’s performances this season haven’t been the best yet and they’ve been inconsistent quite often. Speaking about why this is happening, Juan Ferrando said: “Different matches will result in different types of performances. We’re unhappy with FC Goa’s performance, of course, we had some problems with the transitions. But honestly, the Bengaluru FC game wasn’t easy, we played away and we needed to work hard in the defence too.

“Of course, we need to improve in certain details in the transitions. But our target is to be ready for the matches and try for the best. But sometimes the opposition is much better in some points, which is the target. But it’s not so easy to maintain high consistency, because all the teams in the world have good two-three matches but then struggle in some games. Of course, it’s important for us to maintain consistency in our performances – but it’s not possible so it’s necessary to change some details at points,” he added.

How can consistency problems be solved?

When asked about how this consistency issue can be fixed, Juan Ferrando said: “I think that sometimes when we’re talking about bad situations, it’s maybe because a lot of players don’t have the necessary experience and developmental at the academy and then they are forced to make a big jump in playing at the national league. They need to improve in these details, at the grassroots level. For example in training, when a training session is for 1 hour and 50 minutes, some players are finished early due to fatigue.

“I think it’s important to improve these things. It’s important because imagine when you’ll have a league with 20 teams and there will be 38 games, which will be really difficult for some players. But this is the target for the staff and the foreign players to rally the domestic players to continue working all the time in the same way and thinking about the game for the entire 90 minutes. I think things have changed now from 3-4 seasons ago when the result was 6-4, 7-5 because of this reason – because some players weren’t ready to play for 90 minutes.

“But now you can see the result is 1-1 or 2-2 or 0-0 for this reason. I think now the players are more focused on competing 90 minutes and know their roles better. It’s not so easy, but I think if we can improve in these details, then every game will be better for Indian football and the Indian players, as well as the national team,” he finished.

Carl McHugh comments

Carl McHugh accompanied his coach to the pre-match press conference. Speaking about how he feels about the development of the ISL since he arrived in India, he said:  “I think the league has improved brightly since I’ve been here, this is my fourth season. The quality of the players and coaches has gotten better. The standard of the local players is also improving and I feel there is a lot of scope in Indian football going forward. There are a lot of areas for improvement, but I think the game here has moved forward in the last four minutes.”

When asked if he feels the pressure of added responsibility in the absence of Joni Kauko, the Irish midfielder explained: “Joni is a great player, he was one of the best players in the league which he showed. For me, it’s all about doing the best for the team. We’re very different players, but I’ll do the best I can for the team going forward. It’s good to be back in the team for the last few games, we’ve had some positive results but of course, Joni being ruled out is gutting.”

McHugh also voiced his pleasure that normality has resumed in the ISL after the Covid-19 pandemic, as he finished with: “I think it’s brilliant to have fans back. It’s so much better as a player and for the game, now it feels like a proper game is happening. In the last two seasons, it was difficult to play around closed doors and sometimes the games felt more like reserve games.

“Of course, there is added pressure with fans, but it’s a privilege to be playing in front of the fans. We’ll have to deal with the pressure. I think everyone in Indian football has to be happy that we’re into a regular season with a home and away games. It was difficult for a team to go away from home and this season is great for the league,” he added. 

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