After a scintillating debut season in the Indian Super League, Jorge Costa has a steeper task ahead of him as nothing short of another playoff finish would be acceptable to the management and fans. However, with most of his core retained alongside clever investments, he could repeat the feat again.
While it might not seem at the moment, but the Croatian defender is actually a good upgrade on the departed skipper Lucian Goian. Mumbai City FC were the second-lowest conceding side in the Indian Super League last season, and before Jorge Costa went on to improve his attack, he had to fill the gaps that were glaring last season.
Playing under a more disciplined Eelco Schattorie last time, Grgic was easily amongst the top three defenders of the league and he has been rightly rewarded by being put alongside the robust likes of Pratik Chowdhary and Subashish Bose at the backline. Playing as a centre-half, Grgic had a brilliant 89.34% passing accuracy compared to Goian’s 71.73%, which hints that Costa has managed to minimize his defensive errors by 17.61%.
Of course, the Romanian centre-half has been superior to the Croatian in terms of the number of tackles, clearances, and blocks, but one could also point out Goian’s relentless offensive runs for the same. Hence, despite not the loud figure that Goian was, Grgic could be a better defensive leader for the Island city.
While Grgic’s signing made a lot of sense, this Tunisian comes at the back of relatable darkness. With an established forward like Moudou Sogou already in the squad, who hardly showed signs of being injury-prone, signing another center forward as a foreign recruitment makes little sense. Hence, for Chermiti to ply his trade full-time with Mumbai throughout the season, he would need to push towards the flanks either left or right.
And with Costa getting in Diego from FC Pune City to stuff his left wing, Chermiti is hugely expected to fill in the shoes of Mumbai’s last season’s superstar – Arnold Issoko. However, the fundamental problem lies with the fact that Chermiti, despite accommodating as a winger from time to time, has hardly any impact from the wide areas.
While he has scored a good 37 goals and assisted 21 times from the centre-forward position, when he was forced to either of the flanks, they reduced to seven goals and four assists combined. Hence, Chermiti would see most of his season fighting for a place with the likes of Alen Deory and Bipin Singh for that position.
With the inclusion of Rowlin Borges, Costa has got a huge boost in his midfield especially the physicality and creative attributes that the Indian midfielder brings to the table. Retaining Paoulo Machado is also a call to all the ISL clubs that Mumbai would be persisting with their classic counter-attacking style of play that fetched them success last season with the side finishing in the playoffs.
Now, Larbi fits in this midfield trio really well with the style of play that he brings to the table. Yet another Tunisian like is compatriot Chermiti, Larbi is known for his ability to control the game with clever short passes and bringing the ball out of danger. With an affinity to take long shots and giving layoffs very often, Larbi gets the ball flowing in the middle of the park and could play a crucial part in transitioning from defence to attack.
At 6ft 1, Larbi would be a real threat in aerial duels especially coming from set-pieces and like most of the above acquisitions, would provide the much-needed physicality that Costa has always loved.
As far as Mumbai’s new recruitments are concerned, it doesn’t really trigger any excitement for fans. But then, the scenario wasn’t very different last summer as well, when the fans looked blank in the face of a new manager and his new clutch of players. It panned out quite well then and with the management retaining two of their stars from last season, it is easy to guess around whom would the side revolve. All in all, Mumbai City would be packing a punch yet again this season and with better defensive solidity in Grgic and Borges.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi