ISL: 5-0 win convincing, Everything fell in place for Mumbai

Mumbai: Mumbai City FC’s 5-0 win was no doubt impressive, but with three of their biggest names still to come good or play, it’s clear that they’ve not peaked in the Indian Super League.
In all honesty, Mumbai swept aside an FC Pune City side which was lucky to come away with a draw from Delhi when they played the Dynamos in their opener. But they came against a ruthless side on Saturday — one which exposed all the failings of a labouring Franco Colomba team that needs to start getting their act together.
Andre Moritz, Subhash Singh and Lalrindika Ralte ran riot against Pune — backed by a midfield pairing of Jan Stohanzl and Tiago, who would take turns at defensive duties when the other pushed up — and a defence-line in which Indian right back Peter Costa shone the most.
As Peter Reid said post match, “We were compact covering spaces, in control when we had the ball and used our pace down the flanks.”
All in all, everything fell in place for Mumbai at a time when they really needed it.
ISLReid also gave marquee player Freddie Ljungberg a chance to show what he is capable of. ISL
If the match against Atletico de Kolkata was a marker, then those who graded Mumbai prematurely were dealt a severe blow on Saturday night. But as impressive the players on the pitch were, it’s the players who were absent that make one believe that we’re still to see the team’s best show.
Subhash and Moritz were fantastic up front — each complimenting the other after, as the former pointed out post match, they ‘talked a lot and trained together up front in the last couple days’ — but they still have Nicolas Anelka who has been training with the team since at least three weeks and has been an integral part of their pre-season practice games.
“I put Anelka through some finishing practice the other day and he was just brilliant. That sort of ability comes from experience at the highest level — but it’s also natural. I can’t teach that sort of skill,” Reid had told Firstpost in an interview before the tournament began.
Anelka’s class was also on display when he ran the show in Mumbai’s nervy friendly win against ONGC — where Subhash had also played some minutes with the same directness that we saw against Pune.
Reid also gave marquee player Freddie Ljungberg a chance to show what he is capable of — and in the 20 minutes he played, we saw some precise passing, excellent positioning between midfield and attack and three exquisite passes which created goalscoring chances. Obviously Pune were labouring at this point and trying to limit the amount of damage — but when a player comes on, picks up the ball and immediately opens the defence, not just the quality of attack — but even that of the players around him, increases.
Lastly, Mumbai are yet to benefit from the experience and ability of their skipper Syed Nabi. Nabi is used to the conditions in India, can play out wide as a fullback or in attack and has a skill set which will allow Reid to place him anywhere on the pitch in time of need. His tough tackling, commitment and star power are the intangible benefits he will bring.
The only drawback that is evident in the squad is their dependence on natural grass. Maybe it’s too early to judge, but the whole squad seems to be slightly edgy about playing on artificial turf. It’s either that, or as Reid explained, something to do with the tactics.
“We did some things differently. What you saw out there was fluid movement, interchanging of positions and use of the ball quickly. Overall our attacking was great,” he said, explaining a tactical re-jig to a more free-form method compared to the rigidity we saw in Kolkata.
Things are slowly falling into place for Mumbai. Their next game is against a youthful and energetic NorthEast United side — but it’s at home in front of a vocal crowd that was screaming non-stop and made Subhash stop near the team bus for selfies and chanted ‘Peter, Peter!’
Reid has won hearts but raised expectations also — and declared confidently that his team will do equally well in the next match. But two weeks down the line, he will have to contend with an eligible Anelka and fit Ljungberg and Nabi — a headache which he surely wouldn’t mind.

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