The Greek philosopher Heraclitus quite profoundly quoted. "Change is the only constant in life" in the context of our living world, and football also comes under it. The game has changed a lot over the years and has seen some era-defining tacticians.
Indian Football had the privilege of experiencing some of them. Bengaluru FC, courtesy of Albert Roca were the first Indian club to carry out a transition in the style of football successfully. The second-ball English style that has persisted through generations is something that many believed would not be possible in Indian Football. Bengaluru FC had a lot of success under Ashley Westwood and used the English style of football effectively. So it was a tough call to make a change in the way they played. Several Clubs had followed suit and tried to emulate the success. FC Goa brought in Sergio Lobera, who transformed the team and made Goa the torchbearers of the attacking game by playing out from the back. At the same time, Bengaluru has turned more into a defensively solid side under Carles Cuadrat.
Sergio Lobera's game demands midfielders with astute positional sense and an outstanding ability to direct play from deep. With a lack of quality Indian midfielders who could fit the bill, Goa brought in experienced Indian international Pronay Halder back into the fold through the ISL draft in 2017. Pronay Halder is a defensive midfielder with crunching tackles. But his ability on the ball was not good enough to fit into the starting 11. But halfway through the season, Pronay got his chances started featured regularly in the lineup. Former Mohun Bagan player also improved on his positioning and passing skills, which helped him to get back into the national team setup. Soon he made a big-money move to ATK stalling his progress.
Lobera, at the start of 2018-19 season, brought in experienced midfielder Lenny Rodrigues who had a successful stint at Bengaluru FC, helping them to top the league stages of ISL 2018. Lenny Rodrigues fit seamlessly into the squad and filled the void Pronay Halder had left. Lenny Rodrigues grew from strength to strength under Lobera, improving his positioning and defensive game.
So it was bad news for Indian football fans when Sergio Lobera left FC Goa abruptly. But reports suggest he could be back with Mumbai City FC. The even better news is that some of Indias best and most promising midfielders are presently at MCFC. Here we take a look at a few players who could be improved by Sergio Lobera.
The Goan born midfielder is at the peak of his career, establishing himself as a regular in the national team setup for the last four years and a vital cog in MCFC midfield. Rowllin has as similar qualities that of his Goan counterpart Lenny Rodrigues
At 27, he has grown into a complete midfielder. Rowllin's reliability is one of the things that makes him stand out. He is a remarkably consistent performer and orchestrator at midfield engine with excellent long-range passing qualities.
His athleticism is a big reason for that. It allows him to maintain his levels for the full 90 minutes. But there is more to his game than just having high energy and being a player who is always full of running. He has an excellent array of qualities that you need as a midfielder.
But what he lacks is a bit of confidence. He is a better attacking midfielder than a defensive one and also could improve his short passing game. Sergio Lobera can instigate that confidence in him and improve the technical aspects of his game.
The 24 years old Indian international is one Indias finest in midfield. He has an outstanding capacity to find free spaces and place himself between players to receive the ball with an advantage and give continuity to his team with the ball. He is a constructive player since he activates the game from the midfield & his body orientation is perfect for moving forward. He also boasts of excellent skills and speed on the ball. But he tends to lose possession quickly. His defensive also needs to be improved. If he can iron out these flaws, Raynier can reach new levels under a mentor like Sergio Lobera.
23-year-old Tata Football Academy graduate had an excellent 2019/20 season, regularly featuring in the starting 11. He has similar qualities that of Pronay Halder. He is defensively strong and is a hard tackler. The former Mohun Bagan midfielder does not boast of a vast passing range, but its an aspect of his game that can be improved by Sergio Lobera. With an improvement in his attacking play, he could be an asset for MCFC and the national team.
The 22-year-old Manipuri midfielder is most talented among the MCFC midfield lot. In 2014, he was one of two Indians who played in a one-week camp at the Aspire Academy in Qatar, where he impressed scout from FC Barcelona. After successful stints with ATK and BFC, he moved to Mumbai for regular playing time. He has featured in 10 games this season, helping with a goal and assist. The youngster possesses raw talent but is yet to rise to his potential. With the Arrival of Sergio Lobera, everybody hopes he can graduate to another level.Published 29 Mar 2020, 15:31 IST