Mumbai City FC: The Journey So Far and What to Expect This Season

The most important aspect for Mumbai City FC will be filling the void Lucian Goian has left. His replacement is more-than-capable though, with Mato Grgic having admirably led the NorthEast United defence last season

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The sixth edition of the Indian Super League is all set to kick off from October 20 and with the inception of the new season, Mumbai City FC will look to set foot on the field with a fresh squad and relinquished energy. Before the Islanders lock horns with the remaining nine teams, let us take a look at their journey so far and look at what the Mumboys have to offer this year.

First Season (2014)

The club's journey began on September 15, 2014, after the club signed Nicolas Anelka, a former French international who had been a free agent since his departure from West Bromwich Albion earlier in the year. Subsequently, three days later, former Swedish international Freddie Ljungberg was signed as the team's first marquee player.

The Islanders began their ISL journey on a losing note as Mumbai were the visitors in the first-ever ISL match on 12 October 2014, at Atlético de Kolkata's Salt Lake Stadium and the side lost 3–0.

But on 18 October 2014, the club registered their first victory over FC Pune City by beating them 5–0 at DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai, in which Andre Moritz registered the first-ever hat-trick of ISL. The team finished seventh in the table out of eight and did not qualify for the playoffs.

Second Season (2015)

In July 2015, Nicolas Anelka became player-manager, replacing Englishman Peter Reid whereas Frantz Bertin was appointed captain at the beginning of the season. In a high for the club, Mumbai City FC signed Indian National Football Team captain Sunil Chhetri for a domestic record-breaking deal. The club also signed 2015 I-League's player of the year Haitian Sony Norde.

Chhetri was the top scorer for the Islanders as he netted 7 goals including a hat trick against NorthEast United FC. Despite Chhetri's presence, Mumbai won only four matches and lost six matches out of 14 matches to finish in the sixth position in the group table.

Owing to which, Anelka resigned and announced his departure at the end of the season.

Third and Fourth Season (Alexandre Guimarães Era: 2016–2018)

After Mumbai City FC ended up losing the first two seasons, the management made some big changes as they appointed Alexandre Guimaraes, the head coach for the 2016–17 Indian Super League (ISL) season.

The club also announced their new home ground, Mumbai Football Arena. The club also signed 2010 FIFA World Cup Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan on a three-month deal, with Option to Extend for another year.

The signing fruited for the Islanders as the Uruguayan changed the dynamics of a struggling team to title contenders. Forlan scored the first hat-trick of the Hero Indian Super League 2016 season as Mumbai City FC beat Kerala Blasters 5–0 at Mumbai Football Arena on 19 November 2016. It was also the first hat-trick of any marquee player in the history of the ISL.

The team conceded the least number of goals (8) of all teams in the league, whilst Lucian Goian has the most number of tackles (67) in the league. This managed to fix the goal conceded stat in favour of the Mumbaikars.

Alexandre's men kept 8 clean sheets in the group stage, making it a record across all the three editions of the tournament.

Eventually, the Mumbai franchise continued to work with Guimaraes after he guided the club to their first ever playoffs in three seasons. The club opted to re-sign Amrinder Singh for ₹12 million. He was the best goalkeeper in the league in 2016, keeping record clean sheets for the club.

However this season, they finished seventh in the points table, failing to qualify for the playoffs, with the coach being criticized for overly defensive tactics. After which, in 2016, Mumbai City FC and Alexandre Guimarães parted ways through mutual consent. 

Jorge Costa Era (2018 onwards)

After the announcement that Mumbai City FC had parted ways with Guimaraes, the Islanders announced the signing of former Portuguese international Jorge Costa as the new Mumbai City FC head coach. The 46-year old Portuguese who had excelled both, as a player and manager, was brought on to introduce an offensive approach to their game. 

Prior to being associated with MCFC, his previous stint was with French Ligue 2 side FC Tours. Costa was the fourth Islanders head coach after Peter Reid, Nicolas Anelka and Alexandre Guimaraes. 

Though the team started the season with a 2–0 loss at home to Jamshedpur, followed by a 1–1 draw to Kerala Blasters, they made it to the semi-finals. When Coach Costa made some interesting tactical Changes, the club recorded Best Unbeaten Run in History (9 Games Unbeaten).

The team went on to finish the league stage with the 3rd place and earned them a face-off against FC Goa. However, the encounter led to an embarrassing 5–1 defeat at home leg even when Mumbai scored the First Goal. As they managed to beat Goa 1-0 in an away fixture, it couldn't guarantee them a place in final which was happening in Mumbai itself.

What To Expect This Season?

The side extended Jorge Costa's stay by a year and have also made additions like Mato Grgic and Rowllin Borges, giving them an additional steel to a side that was already impregnable in midfield and defence last season, with the joint-most number of clean sheets in the league - eight alongside FC Goa and NorthEast United FC.

Amrinder Singh will be the most crucial player for the Islanders as he was the best goalkeeper with the most saves in the ISL last season. On the other hand, Costa will look to continue his attacking approach.

Despite having Modou Sougou on their side, the Islanders will miss the duo of Arnold Issoko and Rafael Bastos after they left at the end of last season.

But the most important aspect for Mumbai City FC will be filling the void Lucian Goian has left. His replacement is more-than-capable though, with Mato Grgic having admirably led the NorthEast United defence last season.

Mumbai City FC Squad

Goalkeepers: Amrinder Singh, Ravi Kumar, Kunal Sawant.

Defenders: Mato Grgic, Souvik Chakrabarti, Subhasish Bose, Pratik Chaudhari, Anwar Ali, Valpuia, Sarthak Golui.

Midfielders: Paulo Machado, Raynier Fernandes, Rowllin Borges, Serge Kevyn, Mohamed Larbi, Diego Carlos, Sourav Das, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Bipin Singh, Bidyananda Singh, Surchandra Singh, Pranjal Bhumij.

Forwards: Amine Chermiti, Modou Sougou.

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