ISL 2019 | Squad Analysis of Mumbai City for season 5

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ISL 2019 | Squad Analysis of Mumbai City for season 5

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Subhayan Dutta

10/02/2018

Mumbai City FC had one of those forgettable seasons in ISL 2018, where their erratic form did not pose them as a threat to others and neither could they be taken lightly. They finished seventh and parted ways with Alexandre Guimaraes and consequently went for a huge revamp for this season.

Mumbai’s new coach, Jorge Costa, seems like a huge gamble. The Portuguese sure has a rich resume playing for the likes of FC Porto and managing teams like Braga and the Gabon national team, but his unfamiliarity with ISL doesn’t necessarily make Mumbai one of the title contenders as the franchise would want to believe.

Defence

While the side needed a complete overhaul to iron out the flaws from their previous season, it was the defence that needed maximum exodus and Mumbai has rightly overseen it. They have stuck to her first choice goalie from last season, Amrinder Singh, despite him conceding 28 goals in 16 games, the hinting that the management blamed the defence line more. Amrinder’s backup will continue to be Kunal Sawant, who is yet to get a single match in Mumbai colours.

Defence might play the most important role this season for Mumbai as Costa is known to be someone who heavily relies on it. In a recent interview, he had stated that his philosophy was to win 3 points every time his team stepped on the field, which reflects his pragmatic approach. While Costa has been seen shifting and experimenting with his midfield, a four-man guard at the back has been a constant. Lucian Goian has been the only retained one in the central defence while all others have been replaced.

With Gerson Viera leaving the club, Costa has brought in Arnold Issoko and Marko Klisura, one of whom would be pairing with Goian. And the Congo man, Issoko, who comes from Portuguese first tier side Vitoria is likely to be that guy. Costa has also brought in the experienced Anwar Ali from ATK who is a regular in the national side now and Subhashish Bose, who recently led India to the SAFF Cup final. Apart from them, they have Bikramjeet Singh, Davinder Singh and Shouvik Ghosh, who could be handy on the flanks.

Midfield

It would be interesting to see how Costa uses his midfield especially after the departure of Everton Santos and Achille Emana from last season. Sticking with the experienced Sanju Pradhan, who was a constant presence on the wings last season, Costa has brought in Paulo Machado, who is expected to play the pivot for them. 

Having six Portugal caps to his name, Machado has played for clubs like FC Porto, Dinamo Zagreb, Saint Etienne, and Olympiacos among others and could pair up with the promising Mohammed Rafique. Costa has mostly played 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 in his previous clubs, stressing the importance of central midfielders being the lynchpin. And both Machado and Rafique are expected to be responsible for maintaining the structure. ISL veteran Souvik Chakrabarti could be a good backup who has the experience to fill in as and when required.

FC Pune City’s creator from last season, Matias Mirabaje, comes in to unlock defences up top. With the likes of Pradhan and Sehnaj Singh alongside him, Mumbai look more lethal than last season, when the side heavily looked up to a buffed up Emana to get things going.

Attack

Proven strikers are difficult to get hold of in ISL and Mumbai have lost two of their top scorers from last season - Santos and Balwant Singh. Costa has taken yet another risk in getting in Rafael Bastos to the fore. While the Brazilian does have a reputation of scoring well in his previous clubs, the 33-year-old is well past his prime and was without a club before joining Mumbai. 

Senegal’s Modou Sougou could be an interesting option for Costa because of his experience in major leagues as his previous clubs include Marseille and Sheffield Wednesday. However, we see it more as two separate kinds of forwards who could provide different options for the playmaker. Apart from them, Mumbai also have India’s Alen Deory and Bipin Singh, who look mostly like bench players at the moment.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Mumbai’s biggest strength would be their coach. The Portuguese is right to target 3 points in ISL above beautiful football as the pragmatic approach has previously helped ATK and Chennaiyin win two titles. And if Chennaiyin’s title win is a template to go by then Mumbai are definitely on the right path. In terms of weaknesses, the number of new players who would debut in ISL could be tricky for the franchise as by the time they acquaint themselves with the rigours of the league, it would be too late. Hence, Mumbai’s success would primarily depend of the players’ ability to click faster.

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