Mumbai City FC have scored regular goals this season, but lack of defensive stability has cost them points more often than not.
Finishing third in the 2018-19 Indian Super League season sky scraped Mumbai City FC’s ambitions for the new 2019-20 campaign. Therefore, the team duly paid off the reliance with a 1-0 win in the opening game of the new season against Kerala Blasters on their turf, which all but asserted the Islanders' credential of being one of the best striking teams of the league.
As the season progressed though, the frailties were made evident and the lack of business done in the desirable areas started backfiring as the team went on a disappointing three game unbeaten streak. The only rationale which mirrors the club’s lack of desired results is the deficiency of a foreign centre-back.
Following Lucian Goian’s departure to Chennaiyin FC ahead of the ongoing season, the team decided to bring in Mato Grgic from NorthEast United. Athough the Croat's signing remains a shrewd business, lack of bench strength means the club has to settle with the make-shift centre-back.
Grgic, who picked up an injury against Kerala, is yet to feature for the club since, and manager Jorge Costa has to make do with Sarthak Golui, who is naturally a full-back. Golui has indeed shown his fair share of brilliance at times, but inconsistency has largely overshadowed all those blazing moments.
Head coach Jorge Costa needs Grgic back on his feet as soon as possible given that Mumbai are scheduled to face NorthEast United and ATK in the month of November. The fixture list eventually piles up as Kerala, Bengaluru and Jamshedpur await in the early part of December.
Mumbai missing Rowllin Borges
Rowllin Borges, bought from NorthEast United ahead of the season, was expected to be the catalyst that Mumbai are in dire need of, but an unfortunate injury during the warm-ups ahead of the Odisha game all but ended Mumbai’s hankering of having a steel-like midfield. Having had a whopping 102 touches in just two games, Borges’s absence was felt in as early as the first game Mumbai played without him.
The likes of Raynier Fernandes and Paulo Machado have done a decent job in his absence, but the pair has failed to prevent goals; something which Borges did to mere perfection.
Figuring out the attack
Moudou Sougou, who was the second joint-top scorer of the league last season, is yet to get minutes under his belt this season, while Amine Chermiti – signed from the Saudi Arabian club Al-Fayha, has rather been found wanting more often than not. There’s absolutely no denying the fact that both Sougou and Chermiti can deliver on their day, but Costa needs to script a way where these two can work together on the same page. There is, in fact, only a solitary game where the duo started alongside each other; a 0-0 draw against Chennaiyin FC away from home.
What Costa needs right now is to get his injured players back on the field, and this will involuntarily trigger the rest of the system. With Borges coming in, Machado will be asked to do his usual attacking duties, while Grgic will somewhat stable the defensive line, which has leaked eight goals in two games.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @MumbaiCityFC