For large swathes of the 2019-20 ISL, Sergio Lobera’s FC Goa juggernaut seemed capable of trampling every side in its wake. Unfortunately, a few unforeseen circumstances meant that the Spaniard was shown the door mid-way through the campaign – something that didn’t just rid the ISL of one of its most ambitious managers but also cast the Gaurs’ season under a significant cloud.
Unsurprisingly, FC Goa couldn’t recover sufficiently, meaning that they bowed out to Chennaiyin FC in a titanic semi-final tussle.
Mumbai City FC, meanwhile, fell agonizingly short of the top four, with the Marina Machans playing spoilsport for them as well. In fact, the Islanders, despite seemingly being favourites to clinch the fourth and final play-off berth, lost a touch of steam, at a juncture when they needed to click into gear.
Thus, it perhaps seems fitting that Sergio Lobera and Mumbai City FC, especially after enduring heartbreak at the end of last term, reunite ahead of the 2020-21 ISL, in a bid to end their respective ISL hoodoos.
Mumbai City FC have signed several new players in the off-season
Through the off-season, Mumbai City FC have been one of the most active sides in the transfer market, with the likes of Adam le Fondre, Ahmed Jahouh, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Farukh Choudhary, Hugo Boumous, Mandar Rao Dessai, Mohammad Rakip and Mourtada Fall arriving. Subsequently, the expectations have been amped up several notches – something that boasts the potential to throw a spanner in any side’s works.
Yet, Sergio Lobera, who has often embodied perfection during his tenure in India, remarked that that added pressure is an aspect that he personally thrives on. In fact, in his maiden press conference as Mumbai City FC manager, he confidently highlighted how the collective objectives needed intertwining with individual targets and how that could ultimately help the Islanders catapult themselves to the perch of the ISL.
“I want this additional pressure. It is a pleasure for me to work at Mumbai City FC where there is pressure because it shows that I am at a very good club. I am here because I can work with the City Football Group. There are a lot of people with great football knowledge and when you work in such an environment, there is a lot of scope for me to develop as a coach too. I am enjoying a lot working this way and I feel it is amazing. I have all the tools I aspire to have, as a coach,” Sergio Lobera quipped.
Additionally, the Spaniard also talked about how the influx of former FC Goa players, namely Ahmed Jahouh, Hugo Boumous, Mandar Rao Dessai and Mourtada Fall might help him to implement his philosophy quicker.
Furthermore, the new Mumbai City FC manager opened up on the style of football his side would seek to brandish, hinting that it might not be too different from what his FC Goa team produced in the past couple of seasons.
“My style of football will remain the same. I believe in my philosophy and I believe in my style of play. We need to enjoy during the 90 minutes and I feel it is very important to play attacking football. Also, we need balance between attack and defence. It is very important to have a style of play and how we win is very important for me. For me, the most important thing is to win games and win beautifully,” the Mumbai City FC coach added.
Thus, courtesy a rather enlightening press conference, Sergio Lobera had highlighted the facets that the Mumbai City FC faithful should train their eyes on. And, if the Spaniard’s impressive CV is an indicator, one reckons that the Islanders might be treated to an array of attacking brilliance, especially with Sergio Lobera having the requisite players at his disposal.
Most importantly though, the Spaniard, owing to his position at the helm, is also appreciative of the task at hand and is willing to treat it as a friend rather than a foe – something that couldn’t just help Mumbai City FC overcome the challenges of a unique season but also enable them to embrace each obstacle with confidence and panache.
After all, that’s the image Sergio Lobera has built for himself in the ISL and perhaps, his love affair with Mumbai City FC could morph into the fairy tale the club has been craving for, since its inception.Published 17 Nov 2020, 15:27 IST