Who would have expected Mumbai City FC to be in the top three positions after their 5-0 mauling in Goa? Mumbai have conceded eight goals this season and seven have come in two matches. Also they are the only side with a negative goal difference in the top six this season. In their last three games, Jorge Costa’s side have kept as many clean sheets.
It’s fair to say that Mumbai City FC players have finally adopted to the brand of football professed by Jorge Costa. Unlike the Spanish trend which is very much prevalent in the Indian Super League (ISL) with clubs focusing on a style of play, it must also be noted that none of the coaches advocating that brand of football have had any success whatsoever in India.
In fact in the four-year history of ISL, it’s the coaches who have been defensively solid and do not really focus too much ‘pass-and-move’ brand of football have been triumphant.
"For me, as a coach, my only brand of football is the one that will get me three points at the end of the game,” Costa told Goal during the pre-season.
And he has stayed true to this. The 47-year-old has always reiterated the importance of winning three points and has devised a strategy wherein his team is difficult to break down. They are aggressive in their attempts to win the ball and wouldn’t shy away from a tackle.
And it is not that they have not been entertaining. Modou Sougou could have easily completed a hat-trick given the number of chances he squandered against NorthEast United. Rafael Bastos, who is yet to show his best form, could have added his name to the score-sheet as well.
Against FC Goa where they were made to suffer for their missed chances, had they converted the opportunities that came their way, the final outcome could have been different.
“For us at Mumbai City, it's about playing good, offensive football. We want to bring a type of game to the pitch that our fans look forward to watching us and we want to make sure they are entertained and they can go back home with a smile on their faces,” said Costa.
They have played offensive football on counters and have created several scoring chances but their finishing hasn’t been clinical which explains the negative goal difference.
Their next five matches after the international break are with teams who are placed in the lower half of the table, except Bengaluru FC. That should give them an opportunity to further cement their position in the top four and look to qualify for the play-offs.
For now, Costa’s ‘results first’ approach is yielding the desired fruits and it remains to be seen if it takes them all the way.