Mumbai City FC lead the pack in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) with a formidable style of play which brings in goals, organisation and football of the highest quality when it comes to Indian football. The anchor behind this turnaround is the Englishman, Des Buckingham.

Mumbai City FC have scored the most number of goals scored by any team this season (32) and with three Indian players in the club’s top five leading goalscorers in Lallianzuala Chhangte's five goals, Bipin Singh Thounaojam’s four goals, and Lalengmawia Ralte’s three goals, the latter recruited by Buckingham’s team from NorthEast United FC at the start of last season. The latest victory against Chennaiyin FC meant the Islanders have managed to get 27 points out of a possible 33, bagging eight wins and three draws in the process.

In an interview with Sportskeeda, the head coach talked about the process that it took to transform the club and shed light on the details that it goes into building a team with a winning mentality and an ever-learning mindset.

“It has been 14 months and we have got a way we want to play and that involves having different ways to get to the final third. Not only are we creating more chances, we have more bodies to finish off chances. It is not just about how we get there, but also what we do when we get there. We have different personnel and different strengths of those personnel and with that, comes different ways to approach. That is why you see so many goals and goal-scorers,” Buckingham said.

The team’s success is not only credited to the flashy attacking style of play but a coerce defensive unit that has helped the attackers to flourish. Mumbai City FC have kept four clean sheets in 11 matches.

A midfield three of Ahmed Jahouh, Greg Stewart, and Lalengmawia Ralte has been the backbone of the team, with Stewart and Ralte providing the goals and assists from the midfield.

Buckingham highlighted that it’s not just about possession and attacks, it’s also about being smart in pressing to gain possession back. 

“When we talk about our style, a lot of people think about it just being in possession. It is also about being smart in when we press, how we press, and picking the right moments. There is greater consistency and a clear understanding of when to do it (press) and how to do it,” he said.

“If you’re going to press, the whole unit must do so. There is no point in the forwards pressing and leaving the midfield. Or the forwards and the midfield pressing and the defence staying. If we are deciding not to press and sit in a block, there has to be an understanding of why and how we are going to do it and ensure there are no gaps in between. We don’t want to sit in a block for too long because there will be a point where we are organized and we need to go back into a press. So I would like to think about the consistency, and the quality and the experience of the players on the field to recognize these moments,’’ he further elaborated.

The 37-year-old emphasized that their approach doesn't change whether they win five matches in a row or go 10 matches unbeaten. The fundamentals remain the same, the consistency remains the priority. The Islanders are leading the charts in statistics, be it the most number of goals scored or goals per match average, and while doing so they have left the other main contenders for the trophy to play catch-up.