ISL 2018-19: FC Pune City - hapless or hopeless?

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Pune City will face Jamshedpur, NorthEast and Bengaluru in their next three games - when are they going to win?

After seven matches, FC Pune City are at the bottom of the Indian Super League (ISL) and without a win.

Their last blip came against ATK when a late goal by Gerson Vieira sank the Stallions into what now looks like a black hole with no way out. With more than one-third of the fixtures already played, Pune City are nine points adrift of the last play-off spot. 

Miguel Angel Portugal's slow, side-to-side football with the focus more on possession than penetration got the club off to a poor start. He was sacked after three matches but interim coach Pradhyum Reddy hasn't managed to turn the tables around either.

Pune City ATK ISL

Statistically, Reddy's men are the worst team this season having scored the least and conceded the highest number of goals. Not only has the team's forwards failed to find the net when given the chance, but the defence has also been in shambles whenever the opposition has had a go at them. But the game in Kolkata was one of patience. 

Steve Coppell's decision to push Gerson Vieira into the midfield was a whip-smart move that enabled the hosts to take control of the game right from the off. Pune were pinned to their backfoot as ATK knocked on the doors of the defence. Komal Thatal was lively on the flanks and Manuel Lanzarote seemed to thrive in a free role behind the striker. 

For the visitors, Ashique Kuruniyan's exploits on the wing looked like the only way they could nick a goal. And just as Reddy claimed in one of his pressers , the visitors ran out of steam after the break and the match turned out to be a training ground drill in FIFA 19 that has a glitch that allows you to do anything you want on the field but score. 

Reddy had only three foreigners available to choose for the match after losing the rest to either suspension or injury. But others are expected to step up in the absence of key players and that didn't happen in Kolkata. 

ATK FC Pune City ISL 2018-19

The Stallions had their hopes up as ATK kept floundering chances and looked clueless at times despite having the lion's share of possession. But they were crushed when Lanzarote was allowed to pick up the ball in midfield and run at the defence unopposed with just eight minutes left on the clock.

The attacking midfielder dribbled forward, dragged the ball back and accelerated again without notice to shrug off his marker, entered the box and coolly backheeled it into the feet of Jayesh Rane. The winger caressed a brill cross onto Gerson Vieira's head and the ball fluttered in.

Pune City will have a new face on the sideline when they take the field for their next game but there is no time for the incoming head coach to settle or adapt. Jamshedpur, NorthEast and Bengaluru await the Stallions in their next three fixtures in November and if Pune City can turn up for more than 45 minutes in these matches, they might have a slim chance of getting their season back up and running.

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