By Nikhil Jitendran
Goal in its end of season special analyses the performance of all the teams in India's top flight and in this piece, we focus on Mumbai FC.
Expectation : Mumbai FC ended the 2012-13 I-League campaign in a strong sixth position. Therefore the genuine expectation for the 2013-14 season was to better their previous result by finishing in a top four berth. The presence of experienced professionals such Climax Lawrence, Anwar Ali, Valeriano Rebello and Nicholas Rodrigues added an impressive spine to a fortified team.
Result: Mumbai FC failed to match the targets set at the start of the season as they finished eighth. Of all 24 matches played in this year’s I-League, Mumbai FC attained the highest number of draws - THIRTEEN. All but one of those thirteen was scoreless. Ten of those were 1-1 draws. Mumbai FC also handed
|STAT OF THE SEASON
Mumbai FC are the stalemate
masters, having drawn 13 out of
24 matches in the season.
There were winless streaks of seven and eight games between which was sandwiched consecutive wins against East Bengal and local rivals Pune FC. In all earnest, Mumbai FC looked like a different team after those wins, but they fell off a cliff after those matches and normal order was resumed, much to the chagrin of all involved. It was purely a case of not having enough venom in attack and enough bite in the middle of the park which forced the Mumbaikars to settle for single points against opposition like Rangdajied United and United SC, teams that were being picked apart by oppositions around them.
The Coach : Khalid Jamil for all his experience and tactical guise, almost paid the price as his team rarely got out of second gear for most of the matches. The experienced Mumbai FC coach, now in his fifth year of management with the Yellow and Blues, was always looking over his shoulder at the charge of Churchill Brothers and Rangdajied United who almost dragged Mumbai FC into the relegation dog-fight.
Jamil often did organise his team to tactics that responded to the situation that they were in, but he will forever curse Mumbai’s inability to transform themselves into serial winners. Yet for all his effectiveness, he will hope a stronger transfer mandate and, most importantly, strong cutting edge in front of goal, which will help them have a go at a top four slot next season.
Where it went wrong: There were a number of factors that eventually pulled the curtains down over Mumbai FC’s aspirations. They played with two foreign players at the start of the season and eventually had four Afghanistan nationals in their squad at one point. However poor performances led to their expulsion. Add to this, Yusif Yakubu's visa issues didn't help their cause either. There were personnel brought in at the start of the season that didn’t fill key positions. Mumbai FC’s desperation to bolster their squad was exposed when for one of the home games, in the back drop of an injury crisis, they had only three substitutes on the bench. An emergency dip into the market to sign four of the IMG-Reliance players as well as Nigerian hitman Yusif Yakubu, just about helped them limp through the rest of the season.
The mid-season transfer of Haroon Amiri to Dempo SC in February only hurt the team more. Talents like Sanjdar Ahmadi, weren't just effective enough, scoring just two goals in nine appearances. The diminutive Afghan defender was often a centre piece for Jamil to build his team around and his versatility meant Mumbai FC could put him anywhere across the pitch. The team seemed to lack a sheer cutting edge to convert their draws to victories and this ultimately threatened to put Mumbai to the sword when they were almost entangled in the relegation dog-fight. Mumbai FC live to fight another day.
|Top 3 Performances
1. Mumbai FC 3-2 East Bengal
2. Pune FC 1-2 Mumbai FC
3. Mumbai FC 4-2 Churchill Brothers
|Top Player of the Season
|Flop Player of the Season
“We played better. Only luck was not favouring us"
- Khalid Jamil
(Mumbai FC manager)