It’s taken 14 months to see these kind of performances: Mumbai City FC’s Des Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham was delighted with his team's performance as they beat FC Goa 4-1 in comfortable fashion in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai on Thursday.

Pereyra Diaz opened the account for Mumbai City FC in the 16th minute. Minutes later, Iker Guarrotxena got a goal back for FC Goa with a rare mistake from Phurba Lachenpa. After that, there was no looking back for the Islanders as Lallianzuala Chhangte put MCFC ahead before the half time. Jorge Diaz and the former FC Goa player Alberto Noguera extended MCFC’s lead in the second half.

Buckingham said Mumbai City FC’s recent performances are down to the hard work the team has put in the last 14 months, since he took over as head coach. With MCFC yet to face a defeat this season, the Englishman backed his team to replicate such performances in the remaining eleven games.

Here are the excerpts from  Buckingham's post-match press conference:

Very good result once again, what do you think of the season so far. You have been excellent and unbeaten so far. Do you think that there is room for improvement?

I am happy with the staff, but that's all it is. We're nine games into a 20 game season. We want more than 20 and we've got a lot more work to do. I wasn't happy with the first half. I thought we were good enough to have the goals and go in with the win, but I wasn't happy with a couple of things which we changed in the second half, but we are very happy overall with nine games.

You know what we've been able to do in terms of performances that have got results as well. It's not just been the results. I think they've been deserved and the way we've played has been very good, but there is a lot more that you need to do if we want to continue, not just getting better game by game, but we've got a way we want to do things and I think it's a lot of work, both the staff and the players can look to do and we'll look to address that after the short little break that we get before East Bengal FC.

Thoughts on the team's performance in both halves?

I won't share what I told them at half time, but I would have liked to have told them that a little bit sooner if the moment would have allowed me to do. From the games that we watched and the stats that we have and all the things we have access to, we know that FC Goa start very well in the first 15 minutes, especially, any of the eight games the way that they press, the way that they create challenges and the way they try and score in the first 15 minutes. It's been very evident since the start of the season.

So we were wary of that and I think that was what we saw this evening. We got exactly what we expected. We got to half time with the lead fortunately, and we got caught out of position where although we hadn't played maybe the way that we would have wanted too often, we still got in with the goal advantage of 2-1. The message to the players at half-time was that we changed two things, one with the ball and one without and I won't share that because again we may need to use it again at some point in the season but we are very pleased with how we came out in the second half.

We started very well. The third goal came from one of the things we've spoken about in the half time team talk and then,you know i am very happy with how we then managed the game both in terms of playing and also the players then came on to firstly contribute to the performance and secondly they get some more minutes into their legs.

I saw a little huddle after the match where you delivered a speech. Would you share what it was?

I told the camera guys to go away (laughs). Because again, I think when you hold those huddles, you told the stuff that we talk about in the change room, I think that's where it needs to stay. It's not done for sure and it's not done for any other reason. It's just to pass a key message or two to that group. You know, we don't play now for 15 days so; a break in the calendar, we are playing on the 16th, so we have nearly two weeks.

So the message was just to make sure that we've started well, but it's now about making sure that when we back against East Bengal FC, we pick up where we've left off, and it was a bit more detail behind that which the players are aware of what they need to do in that time and what we need to do to make sure that when you approach the game, we can continue where we where we want to go.

This is Ahmed Jahouh 100th Hero ISL appearance, how would you sum up his time at Mumbai City FC ?

Ahmed Jahouh is one of the best players I've been fortunate enough to work with in my time here. Both at the start and all the way through, he is one of the best professionals on the field and off the field that he has tried so hard to adapt his game to play  the way we want and that's the reason he's playing as much game time and start in the games because we know it can be a very influential player in this league and what he's done already. But the way he's adapted his game, to try and fit into our playing style he is so open-minded to learn new things. And he tries so hard to try and do that and I'm very happy with the performances he's had so far this season. But overall, for the 14 months, I can only talk him up as being one of the best professional players that I've been fortunate to work with.

Mumbai City FC is not only unbeaten but also has a very appealing way of playing, is that what you wanted as a coach?

Yeah, it has taken 14 months to get to kind of what you're seeing now because it takes time.  I think what people see on the TV, there's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes and learning takes time and the club here has been hugely supportive over the last 14 months to allow us what we get, allows the players to be as good as they can and allows the staff to be able to deliver hopefully good sessions more often than not.

But it's taken 14 months before I'll start to see the benefit of those players. We don't have to do things every week. So the players remember it because we've involved the minute and they've been part of learning what how we want to play and the way we want to play, they remember it and that's that's the learning process and because of that they're able to make good decisions more consistently on the field and i'm convinced that's what we're starting to see now and it's important that we continue seeing that from in the final 11 league games.

Do you have a feeling that your team can go unbeaten till the group stages?

No. I've just been asked out on TV as well. No is the answer. It's pleasing. I can say the results are very pleasant, but for me it's about how we set our teams up. We've got a way that we want to play here in Mumbai City FC and we've got a way that we want to play in the City Football Group style, but more so from Mumbai City FC and we need to adapt that to the players that we have in the Indian landscape and football landscape. But again it's making sure that we take every single game at a time. East Bengal FC away next, We know we'll be challenging. We played them in the Durand Cup. They beat us 4-3 so we'll be making sure we're ready for that and then we'll see where we go.

Some really pretty goals were scored today with Alberto Noguera getting the icing on the cake. A word on the goals of how they will be coming?

27 goals in nine games. It's very, very pleasant. Honestly, it is something that we've spoken about. We want to be a possession based team that are spoken about as being an attacking minded team that wants to go out and score more goals than the opposition. And what I'm really pleased with is eleven different goal contributions in terms of players. We've got many different ways now to score goals, but it's making sure that we also don't concede at the other end and that for me so far has been a a big pleasing thing to see from the change of last year, how much more defensively solid we have been in the nine games and will need to be if we want to go and be successful this year.

A word on the atmosphere once again at the Mumbai Football Arena?

I think that's still out there. They're still out there cheering on the players. I've said this many times, I think for those that are fortunate to come here and experience on that day, we know we're not the biggest capacity and we know maybe we don't have the most fans in terms of turning up to the stadium or watching.

But for those who do, the last four games in particular the atmosphere because of the closeness of the fans to the pitch. Spills onto the pitch and you feel it, you feel it for the players, feel it and the coaching staff certainly feel it because they don't stop all the way through the game and even the FC Goa fans tonight, it was the same. So I think it's a different experience, it's a very special one when people come here and hopefully if we keep playing the way that we are and keep the kind of results, you know we'll see this place packed out for the last five or six games.

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