If there is one thing that has been the most obvious weak link, it is Mumbai’s defence. The team has not been able to keep the opposition out and has managed only one clean sheet, at home against Pune. They have also conceded eight goals while scoring only one away from home, which must be a major cause of concern for Reid.
The injury to Nabi in the very first game did not help. Cmovs and Manuel Friedrich have looked good together, but Friedrich suffered against the pace and movement of Chennai’s frontline without his Czech partner. Cmovs, while solid and comfortable with the ball at his feet, has been giving away too many fouls.
The full-back position in particular is an area where Mumbai have been repeatedly attacked, with none of Peter Costa, Deepak Mondal, Tiago Ribeiro and Raju Gaikwad playing solidly enough.
Reid’s influence on the team discernible
Having said that, from the get-go Reid has been trying to implement a philosophy and process at Mumbai City FC. And there are some elements that he has been very eager to embed into the team.
Like the crisp short passing, for example – something that he was renowned for in his playing days. Reid has placed high emphasis on it since the first game. It has had mixed results so far, but it is obviously the philosophy that he is trying to bed in.
The synthetic turf worked against Mumbai in Kolkata, resulting in a lot of their passes being under-hit, but the strategy came off beautifully in the drubbing of Pune. They were a tad unlucky against NorthEast United, and Chennai’s defensive effort clogged their lanes.
Reid has also been keen on playing the ball out of defence and has harped on pressing the ball high up the pitch.
The Englishman has been very straightforward in his assessments post each game, and ever the optimist, has hit upon the bright spots for his team even in the face of setbacks. For instance, after the game against NorthEast United, this is what he had to say:
“We didn’t play well today, we didn’t work their keeper, we didn’t create enough (chances), our passing was not incisive. I thought we were a little bit impatient, whereas they were well-organised. They dropped back and they made it difficult; we just didn’t have the patience. But that’s football, we need to learn.”
And after the chastening defeat to Chennai, he refused to play the blame game:
“There were too many balls down the middle and they got on them and that is just poor defending, we attack as a team and we defend as a team, so I’m not going to point out any fingers at individuals. I think that’s unfair. But as a team, as Mumbai City, we defended very poorly this evening. A lot of my players have had a bad evening so we need to improve.”
He even pointed out to the gathered media that Anelka was just one man and that he can’t single-handedly work wonders for the team, implying that he needed a team effort. He was happy with the striker’s return, but praised Chennai’s defence for keeping him subdued.
Redi’s rallying cry
Straightforward, no-nonsense, to the point – Reid has been very objective in his assessments so far, in both victory and defeat. He is trying to galvanize the team together, but it has been a very up-and-down start. The team also bears an unsettled look about it due to the injury and suspension enforced absences.
Without a doubt, Mumbai have had more issues to deal with as far as personnel are concerned than any of the other participants. That in turn has hindered the progress of Reid and Co. But with time the team is sure to gel and get into playing a certain way.
Managing the pressure and expectations is also going to be key. Before the tournament got underway, they were one of the favourites to lift the trophy. With things not going their way so far, the pressure of that expectation could suddenly begin to mount.
There is no dearth of talent of in this Mumbai team. It’s a team that just needs some settling in and some consistency with both results and players. And they could not have had a better man at the helm in Reid, a man with considerable experience and knowledge of what it takes to cut it in the top tier.
Reid is issuing a rallying cry in an attempt to galvanize things, and it’s up to his team now to translate that into performances on the pitch.