Mumbai City FC have been fairly low key in their brief history in the Indian Super League. After a poor start to life in this competition falling comfortably short of the semi-finals in the first two seasons, the club has been a bit more competitive in the last few campaigns, reaching the semi-finals twice.
However, with a relatively low budget, Mumbai City never really had the resources to compete with the best teams in the ISL. Off the pitch, the club barely caused a ripple. The club failed to draw fans to the stadium with the franchise struggling to completely fill out even a 10,000-seater stadium.
But in the last few months, a lot has changed for the franchise. City Football Group, the entity that owns Premier League giants Manchester City acquired a majority stake in the club. And since the takeover, the club has undergone a complete makeover. From the boardroom to the jersey colours, everything has changed.
Sergio Lobera has been appointed as the club’s new manager and he comes in with a great track record in the ISL, having taken FC Goa to the semi-finals for three straight seasons.
Mumbai City have had a completely different approach in the transfer market as well and have pretty much handpicked the best talents in the league to put together a very strong squad.
What’s changed for 2020-’21 season?
Ins: Hugo Boumous, Amey Ranawade, Vikram Pratap Singh, Mandar Rao Desai, Mehtab Singh, Mohamad Rakip, Tondonba Singh, Mourtada Fall, Ahmed Jahouh, CY Goddard, Farukh Choudhary, Hernan Santana, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Adam le Fondre, Phurba Lachenpa
Outs: Pratik Choudary, Naorem Singh, Chanso Horam, Surchandra Singh, Mohammad Rafique, Mohamed Larbi, Anwar Ali, Mato Grgic, Paulo Machado, Ravi Kumar, Subhasish Bose, Kunal Sawant, Diego Carlos, Alen Deory, Modou Sougou, Amone Chermiti.
Mumbai have seen 15 new players arrive but the significance is in the quality of the signings that the quantity. Last season’s player of the season, Hugo Boumous has joined from FC Goa along with his teammates Ahmed Jahouh, Mandar Rao Desai and Mourtada Fall. These players formed the spine of the successful FC Goa side and will help Lobera establish his philosophy at the club a lot quicker.
Bartholomew Ogbeche who was the joint top scorer last season has also been roped in. Indian stars like Farukh Choudhary and Vikram Pratap Singh are highly promising as well.
Mumbai City have a well-balanced squad. The depth in the squad is also solid. In terms of the balance between youth and experience, Mumbai have got it right as well. On paper, the Islanders have the best squad in the ISL with proven performers across the board.
Despite the overhaul, Mumbai City did well to keep some top quality players in their ranks at the club. Rowllin Borges and Raynier Fernandes have shown that they have a lot of ability and their presence will only provide more flexibility to Lobera.
Too many changes can be problematic at times and with a short pre-season this year, Mumbai City FC may need time to gel together as a unit. Lobera’s system is very specific and will need getting used to for the players. With ISL being a shorter competition, a slow start could prove to be fatal and Lobera will have to find a way of getting results till his impressively assembled squad begins to click.
But apart from the need to build understanding, there aren’t many weaknesses in the Mumbai camp who will also have to deal with the weight of renewed expectations.
Coach - Sergio Lobera
Lobera is no stranger to Indian football after his highly successful stint at FC Goa. A former Barcelona assistant manager, the Spaniard has picked up the style so popularised by the Catalan club. His FC Goa side played vibrant attacking football, keeping plenty of possession in their games. The kind of signings made at Mumbai City FC suggests that it will be no different at Mumbai City FC.
“For Mumbai City, our style of play is very important. It’s not about just winning but winning by playing beautiful football,” Lobera said during his inaugural press conference as Mumbai manager.
Lobera though missed out on silverware at Goa and that’s something he’ll hope to change at Mumbai especially with the backing of CFG.
Player to watch out for: Hugo Boumous
Players of the season in 2019-’20, Boumous will be key for Mumbai City chances. Expected to play in front of Jahoud and Borges, he will have the license to attack and he’ll aim to better his tally of 11 goals and 10 assists of last season.
Boumous made Lobera’s system tick and hence is the most important player in his system. WIth Bartholomew Ogbeche playing ahead of him and with some tricky wingers to flank him Boumous has all the arsenal around him to surpass his achievements at FC Goa.
Mumbai City FC squad for 2020-21 season
|Amrinder Singh||Amey Ranawade||Ahmed Jahouh||Bartholomew Ogbeche|
|Nishit Shetty||Valpuia||Bidyananda Singh||Adam le Fondre|
|Phurba Lachenpa||Mandar Rao Desai||Bipin Singh|
|Vikram Singh||Mehtab Singh||CY Goddard|
|Mohamad Rakip||Farukh Choudhary|
|Tondonba Singh||Hernan Santana|
|Sarthak Golui||Hugo Boumous|
|Mourtada Fall||Asif Khan|
|Vikram Pratap Singh|