Mumbai City FC achieved its best start ever to an Indian Super League season this year, accumulating 25 points from 10 games.
With City Football Group acquiring majority stakes at the club, new manager Sergio Lobera completed several high-profile transfers and loans ahead of 2020-21 ISL.
One among those signings is Adam le Fondre. The 34-year-old Englishman is coming into the ISL on the back of some stunning goal-scoring form at A-League club Sydney FC.
Le Fondre is the leading goal-scorer for the Islanders in the ongoing edition, and he is enjoying life in India. He opened up on his ISL journey so far and more.
What’s your first impression of the ISL?
The league is entertaining. Every game I’ve played has been open. It’s mostly tactical battles, and the standard of play is decent.
How does it feel to challenge for the striker’s spot with Bartholomew Ogbeche?
Both of us work hard on and off the pitch, and our relationship has been good. Ogba has experience in the league. I lean on him for a few things. Even though pre-season was short, we worked together a lot. We don’t play as two upfront often because our team is more fluid with 4-3-3 (formation). As long as the results are positive, it’s not about who plays. Team selection is the coach’s duty.
How has it been playing under Sergio Lobera?
I’m impressed with how we’re playing. We want to keep pressing, get the ball as high as possible and create chances. Sergio is one of the main reasons why I came here. His teams tend to score lots of goals. I’ve always been a high-pressing player, and he makes me do that.
What prompted you to leave the A-League and join ISL?
The global pandemic changed everything. We didn’t know if the A-League was going to go ahead. There were financial problems. I have three young children and a wife to provide. The uncertainty of what’s next pushed me out. I could’ve gone back to England, but I didn’t want to. English football has become stale for me. It felt like I had to stay abroad. The City Football Group and Mumbai were a whole new opportunity. With CFG involved, I knew they would provide the best possible standards.
How’s life in the bubble and how different was the bio-secure environment in Australia?
In the A-League, I could see my family every day and here that’s not possible. Being away from family hurts, but if I take a medal back home, it’s a trip worthwhile. Here, the situation is tricky because players return to empty hotel rooms and can’t roam around like before. However, I’m ready for the tough mental battle.
What do you do to keep yourself entertained in the bubble?
Football Manager keeps the boredom away. I’ve been playing it a lot. Post dinner, eight to nine of us play Among Us together as well.
Among the Indian contingent, who are the players with the potential to shine in the future?
Farukh Choudhary and Raynier Fernandes have got good technical ability. They need to keep pushing themselves. If you see Rowllin Borges, he’s outstanding. He wins every second ball and keeps it simple, which is what you demand from a No. 6. Then there’s Mehtab Singh, who’s done a fantastic job. He stepped up and closed a void nicely. All of them need to work a little extra to reach the next level. We are lucky with the Indian players we’ve got. This bunch wants to learn more and improve. That’s exactly what the coach wants.
Can you give a gist of your 2012/13 Premier League season with Reading?
I loved my time at the Premier League, especially when I won the Player of the Month award (January 2013). Eighteen months before that, I was playing in League Two with Rotherham United. So, I was delighted to make memories.
Being a highlight on Match of the Day with Gary Lineker talking about me, it was a dream fulfilled. I had some great moments in the Premiership, but, unfortunately, we got relegated.
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