Mumbai City FC has been a two-time semifinalist in the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21), but the title has eluded the Islanders over the last six years. Despite having some top names in the squad, the teams failed to qualify for the playoffs last season and finished fifth.
This time, with City Football Group, the owner of Premier League giant Manchester City, acquiring a majority stake in Mumbai City, the club has undergone a complete overhaul.
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With Sergio Lobera taking charge as coach, Mumbai City has acquired quite a few key players from his former side FC Goa, including Mandar Rao Dessai, Hugo Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh and Mourtada Fall.
The club has retained consistent performers such as goalie Amrinder Singh, midfielders Rowllin Borges and Raynier Fernandes, and defender Sarthak Golui to ensure a well-balanced setup, which is the team’s biggest strength.
Since most of the players who joined from FC Goa have a good rapport with Lobera, they know how to adapt to the coach’s style of play, and that understanding should help in getting the team formation right.
Consistency has been the biggest issue for the Islanders. While Mumbai has some big names in the squad, it needs to ensure that the scoring unit finds rhythm.
While Lobera has a point to prove with a squad of superstars at his disposal, the club needs to make sure that too many big names don’t spoil the party!
After keeping Jorge Costa at the helm for a couple of seasons, Mumbai City FC brought in Lobera as head coach ahead of ISL 2020-21.
The Spaniard, who was assistant manager at Barcelona in 2012, played a key role in making FC Goa a force to be reckoned with in the ISL, and Mumbai expects a similar result from him.
Having managed clubs in Spain, Morocco and India, Lobera believes in aggressive football and that has been his trademark in the ISL.
Mumbai City had two captains last season – Paulo Machado and Amrinder Singh. With Machado parting ways with the club, the team management is yet to formally name a captain. There are chances that Dessai could be considered for the role.
Mumbai’s overseas contingent looks sorted. While former Paris Saint-Germain forward Bartholomew Ogbeche has already proved his mettle for NorthEast United and Kerala Blasters, the inclusion of striker Adam le Fondre is a boost for Mumbai.
Having played for Reading in the Premier League, le Fondre has a scoring record in various tiers of English football.
Before heading to India, he was the second-highest scorer in the A-League last season and helped Sydney Wanderers clinch the title. The side also has firepower in 23-year-old Cy Goddard, a Tottenham Hotspur youth product.
Best new signing
Youngster Farukh Choudhary and le Fondre are perhaps the best picks for this season.
While le Fondre already has an impressive CV, the choice of Choudhary, who played for Jamshedpur FC the last three seasons, could be a smart one.
In his three years at Goa, Lobera's preferred formation was the 4-2-3-1 and it is likely he will continue to use this at Mumbai. He has two potent strikers in Ogbeche and le Fondre so it remains to be seen if the Spaniard will tweak the formation to shoehorn in his best attacking talents.
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