Mumbai City FC season review: Record-breaking, historic and unprecedented
If you want to look at a record-breaking, historic season from a team, then look nowhere apart from Mumbai City FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23. The Islanders were in a league of their own as they won the League Shield in style. Mumbai City FC scored the most number of goals (54) in a single season while collecting the most points (46) in a single campaign. They were close to finishing the season unbeaten, but two defeats in their final two league games meant that Mumbai City FC fell short of that feat. Nonetheless, it was a stellar season for the record-breaking Islanders.
Des Buckingham and his side began the campaign with a high-scoring draw against Hyderabad FC, and then there was no stopping them. With strength in depth and talent spread across the pitch, Mumbai City FC more often than not, had moments of magic on the pitch. If the attack was lethal, the defence rock solid, helping them collect seven clean sheets. Meanwhile, the midfield, comprising of Greg Stewart, Ahmed Jahouh and Lalengmawia Ralte pulled the strings together for the team. It was a collective effort from the Islanders in their historic League Shield triumph.
A season with too many positives was put on hold with two consecutive defeats at the end of the league phase and bowing out of the semi-final to Bengaluru FC, but it surely did not derail the ray of hope within the fans and the head coach, who said, “When I look back across these 10 to 12 months, I am proud of what we have been able to do.”
"When you put it over the last 10 to 12 months, very proud of what we've been able to do and that includes the season, but more so how we've gone about playing to do that and also achieving success. So we'll be back, build upon what we have, and be ready," Buckingham said after their semi-final defeat.
Played: 22 Wins: 15 Draws: 4 Losses: 3
Mumbai City FC began their historic campaign with a 3-3 draw against Hyderabad FC in their first game. They amassed an 18-game unbeaten run right from the start, scoring 54 goals and collecting seven clean sheets on their way to the League Shield win with a record point tally of 46 points.
If the start was blistering, Mumbai City FC couldn't replicate the same performances towards the end of the season, where they suffered two defeats in their last two league games. They then went down to Bengaluru FC in a nail-biting penalty shootout after the scores were tied 2-2 on aggregate over two legs.
The campaign was full of positives for Des Buckingham’s side. Right from the defence to the attack, Mumbai City FC had a talented squad that was ready for the challenge, with young players combining well with their experienced teammates.
The record tally of 54 goals during the season showcased how the Islanders were in the league of their own. It was a massive improvement to the 36 goals they scored in the previous season, where they finished fifth.
A season where one would find it hard to sort out the negatives, for Mumbai City FC, it was their issue with goals conceded from set-pieces. Defeats in their final two league games hampered their momentum going into the semi-finals, which put an end to their dreams of achieving the double, like they did during the Hero ISL 2020-21 season.
The 25-year-old winger Lallianzuala Chhangte rose to the occasion this season and his exploits in front of goal came as a massive blessing to the Mumbai City FC. Chhangte was a vital part of Buckingham’s side, contributing 16 goals (10 goals and six assists) in 20 games. His deadly partnership with fellow Indian Bipin Singh was a major factor in leading the Islanders to their second League Shield.
Chhangte wrapped up his season with silverware and individual honour when he was adjudged the Hero of the League for the 2022-23 season, reaping rewards for his best-ever Hero ISL season in terms of goal contributions.
Best Young Player
Mehtab Singh, the 24-year-old defender, was a rock at the back for Mumbai City FC and was instrumental in defence as the Islanders conceding only 21 goals in the season. Mehtab was one of the most impressive youngsters of the Hero ISL season. He appeared in 21 games for Des Buckingham's side and offered a threat at both ends of the pitch, scoring two goals.
What do they need next season?
For a Mumbai City FC side with so much to look forward to, this season was something they will certainly keep in mind moving forward with the same mentality to get even better. Buckingham will look to make sure that his squad maintain the same standards and consistency from this season and keep challenging for titles.