The announcement of Jorge Costa by Mumbai City FC after a torrid 2017-18 Indian Super League season was enough to instil a sense of fresh air amongst the Islanders. The Portuguese after all came in with the reputation of being a Jose Mourinho protégé, having captained the former Chelsea and Manchester United manager’s Champions League-winning Porto team in 2004.
“Becoming a coach after hanging up my boots had a lot to do to with my love for the game. When I had the opportunity to keep working in the game as a coach, I didn’t have to think twice. Football is my life, and I’m fortunate to be doing what I love,” the gaffer said in an interview with Hindustan Times.
Costa, who turned 48 in October, has enjoyed supreme success as a player, having won eight Primeira Liga titles with Porto, but his managerial record has been a total contrast. Since being on the other side of the pitch, Costa has found it difficult to settle into a stable home, having managed 11 teams before coming to Mumbai.
It indeed took him time to adapt to the flavour of Indian football, but positive results during the club’s pre-season tour to Thailand was enough to create a buzz. The Portuguese got off to a slow start to his new life with a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of FC Goa in the 2018-19 season bringing back the horrors of the past.
The defeat, however, triggered Mumbai City’s fortune to an extent that the club went on a nine-match winning run before finishing third in the table. The club made it to the semi-finals for only the second time in history. Goa once again spoiled their party, but the fans knew what was in store.
A shrewd approach in the 2018-19 season not only gave an idea of his tactical expertise but also highlighted his quick-witted outlook of dealing with a limited budget under which the likes of Rafael Bastos, Paolo Machado and Lucian Goian arrived. In his usual 4-2-3-1 formation, Costa expects his wingers to be the workhorses and mostly relies on the counter-attack; a trait that can be found common in Mourinho’s style of play.
Machado in particular, commands the midfield and with his vast experience in European football, compliments his teammates to perfection; a role which Cesc Fabregas was given during Chelsea’s 2014-15 Premier League triumph.
Destiny hasn’t really favoured Costa this season. They did start with a narrow 1-0 win over Kerala but have gone on to concede eight goals in the next two games. But he is sure to make things better.
“My players knew what to do but still, they did not. If you do not do as I say, then I need to change you. I believe my players want to do it, but they cannot,” Costa said in the post-match press conference after the defeat to Goa.
“And if they cannot then I will not close my eyes. When I came here, it was to succeed. I think we had a very good first season. I am not here for the holidays, so the things must be as I want. I’m the boss, I must take decisions and stop these silly goals.”
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @ISL