ISL: Departing Mumbai City FC coach Jorge Costa found success with limited resources and under trying circumstances

With limited resources and often under trying circumstances, Jorge Costa did the best he could in both the seasons as manager of Mumbai City FC.

Anish Anand March 06, 2020 19:37:06 IST
ISL: Departing Mumbai City FC coach Jorge Costa found success with limited resources and under trying circumstances
  • With limited resources and often under trying circumstances, Costa did the best he could in both the seasons.

  • He wanted his team to fight until the last second, just like he used to do as a player, a fact corroborated by Mourinho himself.

  • The results this season may not justify a new contract for Costa, but then again, he did enough to justify a new contract.

Jorge Costa is done with his Indian football journey, at least for now. The Portuguese coach and Mumbai City FC have parted ways after two seasons of being together in the Indian Super League (ISL). In his first season as manager, Mumbai finished in the top four but didn't make it to the final, In his second season, the ongoing one, Mumbai ended up being fifth and did not qualify to the semi-finals. Taking just the results into context, Costa's departure makes sense. Finishing in the top four is the primary objective for all the clubs in the ISL and in this regard, Costa was unsuccessful in his mission. But for a lot of reasons, Costa's tenure with Mumbai was a successful one.

ISL Departing Mumbai City FC coach Jorge Costa found success with limited resources and under trying circumstances

Despite all the problems, Costa kept his team in the hunt for a semi-final spot till the final match. @MumbaiCityFC

When Costa was appointed as the manager of the Mumbai City FC, it was his association with Jose Mourinho as a player that made a lot of noise than his previous managerial stints. Costa was captain of the famed FC Porto team that won the 2004 Champions League under Mourinho. During an ISL media day, Costa was asked questions about his 'footballing philosophy' and will he go with a 'style' that is similar to that of Mourinho. Costa, though, wanted his side to play attractive football. This turned out to be a mistake and Costa realised it when Mumbai did not have the best of starts to the season, having won only one match from the first four games.

Before the team's fortunes went south, Costa adapted to the realities surrounding him and it proved to be a big positive step. He went with a practical approach in matches, playing to the individual strengths of his players.  After the first four matches, Costa oversaw an unbeaten run of nine matches in the ISL, which ultimately resulted in his team finishing third on the league table. A 1-5 defeat at home against FC Goa in the first leg of the semi-final crashed hopes of qualifying to the final, but Costa showed plenty of promise in his first season.

Before the second session began, Costa spoke about not having a strong budget when compared to the other team. His exact words were, "Our budget this time is maybe the second or third worst. But I will not hide behind the budget. This is my team and all the 25 players in the squad are chosen by me." Apart from the budget issues, Costa had to deal with the departure of key foreign players from the previous season. Costa was heavily dependent on players like Arnold Issoko, Rafael Bastos and Lucian Goian, and all three left the club before the start of this season. While the club retained the services of Modou Sougou and captain Paulo Machado, there was no doubt that the quality of the side had taken a hit. Among the Indian players, only the acquisition of Rowllin Borges inspired some sort of confidence going into the season.

But it was the combination of weak defence and injuries that proved to be the undoing of Mumbai. Costa failed to put out a settled backline. Mato Grgic, the foreign centre back did not have the best of seasons. Subhasish Bose had an awful start before regaining some sort of form in the latter part of the season. Sarthak Golui had to miss matches because of an injury and then captain Machado's season came to an end in December due to an ankle injury. To lose a player of Machado's quality was the biggest setback for Costa and Mumbai failed to find a replacement.

The team conceded 29 goals this season, compared to just 20 in the previous year. This time, they kept only four clean sheets, compared to the eight in the previous season.

Despite all the problems, Costa kept his team in the hunt for a semi-final spot till the final match. Mumbai and Chennaiyin played a virtual quarter-final on 21 February, and in the end, a goal from former Mumbai captain Goian ensured Chennaiyin's victory. Mumbai, with a man down, had a brilliant chance to take lead in the second half. Amine Chermiti had a one-on-one opportunity against Chennaiyin goalkeeper Vishal Kaith, only for the striker to come up with an awful finish. Costa turned around and covered his face with his hands, trying hard to make sense of the miss, and the misfortunes he experienced throughout the season.

After the match, Costa spoke about not having a contract for next season, but he was interested in continuing his job with the team. With limited resources and often under trying circumstances, Costa did the best he could in both the seasons. He wanted his team to fight until the last second, just like he used to do as a player, a fact corroborated by Mourinho himself. He was humble, like the time when he accepted to have misjudged the quality of the league, but was also equally brutal, like the time when he murmured, "Did he play at all?" when asked about one of his player's performance.

The results this season may not justify a new contract for Costa, but then again, as an individual, he did enough to justify a new contract. There are no reasons to believe he wouldn't have taken the club a notch higher with an improved budget for the next season.

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