“The boys gave their all on the pitch but it was not our day”

The Boss Spoke About His Side’s Defeat To Mumbai City FC, Defensive Frailties And The Way Ahead…

On the tactical plan last night…

We had a plan and we were ready for the way Mumbai City started the game. They played very well and they knew where to find spaces. Our plan was to be compact at the back and then hit them on the counter-attack with fast players like [Deshorn] Brown, Suresh (Wangjam), Cleiton (Silva) and Sunil (Chhetri). The boys gave their all on the pitch and we were close to getting something from the game at 2-1.

Mumbai City played wonderful football in the opening minutes and deserved their lead and the three points at the end; there’s no question about that. But when you look back, we created the first chance of the game with (Deshorn) Brown. If we had scored in the third minute, it would have been a different game and we would have the opportunity to catch them on the counter again. Football is a game of dynamics, quality and plans. But it was not our day.

On Gurpreet’s mistake…

Gurpreet [Singh Sandhu] for me is the best goalkeeper in India and I am very happy with him. Mistakes are made in football, it is natural and we fully support him. Every goalkeeper makes mistakes, and we have to support them because we know that they are working hard every day in training to avoid those.

On three defeats in a row…

We lost three games but two of those three were against teams who are at the top, fighting for the AFC Champions League spots. We will try to fight for a playoff position and as a team we will give our all. We got the better of ATK last season, as we did against [Sergio] Lobera’s side. But this isn’t over a game, it is a long season. We have to show consistency.

On the defensive issues…

We try to not have gaps at the back but we have new players and we are working on it. We have been working on a lot of these on the training ground, working the magnetic pieces on the board but at the end it is the players who take the decisions on the pitch. We changed some things at halftime and we got back in the game little but Mumbai were comfortable with a two goal lead.

On the upcoming games…

We have to improve a lot in different aspects. There are no excuses. We do have some players who are not at their best because of some muscle issues. We also miss Ashique (Kuruniyan) who was one of our fittest players at the time of his injury. Again, it is not an excuse and we have a good squad.

Honestly, I think ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City FC have consistency in their squad and the way they play. We have to understand that maybe our role as a club is to now aim for the playoffs and then take it from there.

On what’s missing in the team this season…

There are several reasons why we are not as fluid as we have been over the years. The change in players means you have to try to teach the new ones how we play our game. The club took a decision to change the defence in the summer, and our defence was the best in the League last season.

As someone who works for the club, I respect the decisions they took to part with Nishu [Kumar] and [Albert] Serran. We are now trying to teach the new players how to play the way we do. It’s a hard job but it is my job and I love doing it. We have to keep improving and try to be competitive as a team.