THE ISLANDERS, Mumbai City FC, unveiled their head coach Jorge Costa at a media event in the city yesterday. The Fan Garage, present among the attendees, chatted with Mumbai City CEO Indranil Das Blah on the past season and new forays the team has made this season.
The Indian Super League teams have seen coaches, like players, being changed season after another, and even mid-way through the season. Mumbai City FC brought in Alexandre Guimaraes in the ISL 3 season and retained him for the next season as well. Guimaraes led Mumbai City FC to top of the group standings at the end of the league stage in ISL 3.
He helped the club reach its maiden semi-final where it succumbed to the eventual League winner ATK (then Atletico de Kolkata), in a closely fought semi-final in 2016. Last season the team failed to repeat the feat and parted company with Guimaraes.
Indranil, sharing the reason behind letting go of the Costa Rican, said,
“It is never ideal when you change a coach every year. Football is a very brutal game where if you don’t perform in a season, you are asked to leave. We didn’t have a good season last year.”
“The reason we went ahead with Gima (Guimaraes) in Indian Super League 4 was because we have done really well in ISL 3. The expectation was to go forward from there, but we regressed from last season, which is why we wanted a fresh perspective. But idea has been to keep the same coach as long as possible.”
At 46 years, Jorge Costa, is one of the younger coaches in the ISL. Speaking on having a young coach in charge, the MCFC CEO went ahead explaining the merits of young, but experienced, coaches.
“If you look at some of the younger coaches, say Chennaiyin FC have Gregory, Delhi (Dynamos) have signed (Josep) Gambau and our coach; they are all young and want to prove themselves. The ISL is a stepping stone for them. If they do well in the ISL, they can go to a bigger club in Europe. Take (José Francisco) Molina (former ISL winning coach of ATK) for example, he is now the Technical Director of Spain.”
Das Blah continued:
“Younger guys are more motivated because their careers are riding on this. If you don’t have a good season, it is not good for the CV.”
Mumbai City, for the first since its inception, held trials for the youth teams this year. The CEO of the team said this was long due and have finally entered in the youth domain.
“It was inevitable. We should have started earlier but we couldn’t. People need to realise that Mumbai (City FC) and NorthEast (United FC) are the only clubs funded by individuals. We are not backed by JSW or big corporates. So had to prioritise what we were doing. First three years we prioritised grassroots and we won best grassroots program every year.”
Continuing on the topic of youth,
“We decided to allocate three to four crore budget towards reserve team, under 18 and under 15. Late in arriving, but that is how you end up saving cost over a period of five to ten years”
Das Blah agreed that finally connecting the grassroots, youth and reserve teams to the senior team makes a path to development visible. On the same note he said,
“What we learnt while doing grassroots is there is talent. And the talent needed a funnel, which hopefully we are providing. Having said that, it is still two years away that these under 18 kids make it to the main team. But the fact that these players will get access to some of the best Indian and international players will definitely help”
Mumbai City FC CEO was hoping to get their first ISL silverware this season by putting in their best effort, and having brought in a new coach.
Giving a final word on the feeling ahead of the new campaign, Das Blah concluded:
“It is going to be a tough season.”
On the fixtures released up to December, MCFC CEO said,
“ISL fixtures have been released up to December and we have a period where we have games on the 3rd, 6th and 9th, so nothing really has changed that much”
This season Indian Super League will have two breaks and Indranil was of the view that it would help learn and correct mistakes during the break period.