The Islanders preaked too early running out of steam in the playoffs but in getting to the last four they have assembled the nucleus of a squad that should deliver success if kept together and supplemented…
After two disappointing seasons in the Indian Super League (ISL), Mumbai City FC wre a team transformed in ISL 3. Under the stewardship of new manager Alexandre Guimaraes a heavily overhaulled squad was headlined by new marquee player, Uruguayan forward Diego Forlan. All in all, there was much optimism in the setup with the team looking to make the playoffs for the first time in their history.
They started the season with a 0-1 away win against regional rivals FC Pune City in the Maha Derby and the team went from strength to strength thereafter. In the event, they not only comfortably made the playoffs, but also finished top of the table at the end of the league phase with 23 points from 14 games.
With six wins, five draws and three defeats they were widely seen as the team to beat going into the last four. As it turned out though, they had peaked too early bowing out to eventual champions Atletico de Kolkata with a whimper after failing to beat the Bengal Tigers at home without marqiee Forlan who was suspended after being sent off in the first leg.
Fact Sheet for ISL Season 3
Games Played: 16
Won : 6
Lost : 4
Drawn : 6
Win %: 37.50%
The first match was played against Al Ahli, the reigning UAE Pro League champions and Asian Champions League runners-up in which the Mumbai outfit came out on top scoring two goals without reply thanks to Leo Costa and Lucian Goian. They then drew 1-1 with Dubai-based Al Wasl and then won the third match against the Dubai Cultural Sports Club 2-0 with goals from Matias Defederico and Gaston Sangoy. The fourth and final match against Al Arabi was drawn 2-2 with Mumbai’s goals coming from Gerson Viera and Boithang Haokip.
Top 3 Players
Flop of the Season
Sunil Chhetri: The striker missed the majority of the season owing to AFC Cup duty woth Bengaluru FC where he lead them to the Final of the continental tournament. Upon his return to the Mumbai fold it was expected that Chhetri would further bolster the team’s attack in partnership with Forlan. Disappointingly though the striker flattered to deceive in his six appearances failijng to score any goals. What’s more, arguably his worst performance of the season came on a night on which the team needed him the most. 2-3 down on aggregate going into the second leg of the playoffs at home and with Forlan suspended, the Islanders looked to the India skipper to lead the line and fire them to the Final. The forward received an early chance in a one-on-one with opposition keeper Debjit Majumder. It was an opportunity he would otherwise gobble up in his sleep. But, on that night he fluffed his lines badly. That set the tone for the evening as the the frontman cut an isolated figure unable to influence a game in which his leadership qualities were meant to come to the fore.
Tato’s Performance in ISL 2016
Matches : 6
Shots on Target: 7
Successful passes: 148
Top 3 Performances
- Mumbai City 5-0 Kerala Blasters ( Match Report and Highlights)
Mumbai City 2-0 Chennaiyin FC (Match Report and Highlights)
- Atletico de Kolkata 0-1 Mumbai City (Match Report and Highlights)
Manager’s Report Card
Former Costa Rica boss Alexandre Guimaraes brought with him a sense of stability and calm to Mumbai this season. He had to him the air of a man who knew what he’s doing, someone who was not only in control of himself, but also of those around him. Most importantly though, he brought the one thing Mumbai sorely missed in previous seasons, leadership. This was a welcome change for a franchise that suffered first under the eccentric Englishman Peter Reid and then maverick French player-manager Nicolas Anelka.
Undountedly, Guimaraes’ greatest achievement was to make Mumbai a far more efficient and stable outfit, a team that was solid at the back and hard to beat. Of course with the quality of individual brilliance in their attack they were always in the game. Given his performance Mumbai will be keen to retain the Costa Rican’s services next year.
Lessons to be learned
It is difficult to pick holes in a season that was flawless for the most part but with just 18 from 16 games scoring goals on a consistent basis was a problem for the team. This was down in part to the more pragmatic style of play. They were also not helped by missing Chhetri, Gaston Sangoy, Boithang Haokip and Udanta Singh for most of the campaign. Further, while they looked a reasonably well-rounded unit much of their creativity in the final third came through Forlan with the team struggling in his absence. This signals a certain level of over-dependence on an individual. These are areas that the team management will look address as they plan for next year.
However, while they may have failed to lift silverware, in reaching the playoffs Mumbai appeared a team unrecogizable from their previous feeble avatars. With the nucleus of a good squad now in place the franchise can expect success in the years to come if they can keep most of their flock together and supplement the squad with a few shrewd additions.
Mangesh Nadkarni, Founder MCFC Supporters Club
‘This season was brilliant. We were undoubtedly one of the best team in the league. Our attack was lethal and defense was organised. As the Supporters Club, we’ve been going to the Pune away game every year, we won it this year and it was a first. The feeling of 120 away fans screaming and chanting their lungs out after a Maharashtra Derby win, is a memory I will cherish for years to come. This year we even had our very own Supporters Club Player of the Year Award , which we personally gave it to Lucian Goian. Overall it was a wonderful season and we are proud of our club, coach, players and the support staff more than ever.
Photos Courtesy: ISL Media
Review by Khel Now-Content Editor Mrunal Nakashe. A sports buff, he’s also a foreign policy enthusiast and keen North Korea watcher. Mrunal loves gaming, reading, traveling and is a self-confessed Football Manager addict.