Need to be prepared to change the plans: ATK Mohun Bagan’s Juan Ferrando

ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando has had an overview of his squad amongst their injury crisis and has hinted on a change of plans ahead of their upcoming game against FC Goa in Matchweek 13 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Wednesday.

The Spaniard has been wading through troubled waters to find a solution to his squad’s piling injury list as ATK Mohun Bagan are striving hard to collect the points and make their place in a heated race for the top six.

Having borne the brunt of a 0-3 loss in the reverse fixture, Ferrando will aim to get all three points in what will be a special contest in the race for the top six for his injury-riddled team.

The ATKMB head coach was concerned about his side’s injuries while also speaking about the difficulty his team has to face due to the non-availability of key players, with seven casualties on the injury list.

“The last match was a difficult result, and everybody has problems, we have seven players out with injury and a few players who are out for the season. We have to discuss with the medical staff to prepare for the match and prepare for everything,” Ferrando stated in the official pre-match press conference.

“The players are always ready to help and support the team, some players start the season in the starting lineups but towards the end of the season, they are out of the team due to performances, suspensions, or injuries. This is a part of football where you have to be prepared to change the plans,” he added.

With Joni Kauko and Hugo Boumous in the team, ATK Mohun Bagan's win rate had been on the rise, with the duo helping to control the tempo of the game. However, without their key midfield combination, it has been a tough going for the Kolkata-based team.

“It is important to have Joni Kauko and Hugo Boumous, of course since it is easier to keep hold of the ball and control the game when they are involved, we had to change our process of attack, this is the truth, and it is a problem without Hugo and Joni but my job is to try and find the solution with the team,” he expressed.

The lack of scoring goals has been a huge concern as the Mariners failed to score in back-to-back games for the first time in the Hero ISL history following their 0-1 defeat against NorthEast United FC in the previous game, which again adds up to the list of unwanted worries for Ferrando. He expects a tough game on Wednesday against FC Goa, who are undefeated in their last three games and pose a serious threat for a place in the top six.

“I know about Wednesday’s opponent, and my point of view is that better teams are playing football. FC Goa have players who can control the spaces, and it is necessary to control the press because in this case, it is difficult to play such teams,” he mentioned.

With the January transfer window around the corner, the coach also put forward his views about their probable midfield target Federico Gallego, who would help lessen the injury concerns of his team and help fill the shoes of Hugo Boumous and Joni Kauko.

“It is very difficult to get the right players signed, and it is very important to see who is ready to join us and play eight more matches, but in case Federico Gallego joins, he will be very good for us and he can help, as the management thinks he is the right pick,” said the 41-year-old.

On being questioned about the team’s shyness in front of the goal and whether it is a lack of confidence that is a hindrance in the team’s performance, the 41-year-old cited psychological reasons as the key behind the team’s goalscoring form while stating examples from the team’s previous outings in the AFC Cup and the Durand Cup.

“It’s psychological. I repeat, check the statistics against Kuala Lumpur City FC (in the AFC Cup), in the Durand Cup, we had 6-7 shots on target. In the last match, we had seven shots on target against NorthEast United FC,” he said.

“You want the performance of the players - who are players and not machines - they need confidence in themselves. Sometimes, the players do everything, and sometimes the players have a lot of capacity but they are not very confident and have no success,” he added.

The head coach also highlighted the importance of emotions during his team’s testing period and called for his fans to offer support in order to get the team back to their level best.

“This part of football, the emotions are very important. For me, the most important thing is that the team creates chances. The second part, of course, I hope the players, step-by-step, gain more confidence, create more chances, and score goals. But it’s part of football. Sometimes it is necessary to accept these things because this is not in our hands,” he stated.

“The most important thing is to support them because 100% when they are 25, 26, 27 years from the time of their playing experience is the best moment of the careers of the players,” he added.

Ferrando also gave an update about the team’s latest acquisition of former Chennaiyin FC defender Slavko Damjanovic and revealed that signing quality players like Damjanovic doesn’t come easy.

“Slavko is working for the match, working so fast enough to fit his style with the players. The most important thing is that the player wants to join us with ambition and the player wants to come with us to support the team and to try to do the best,” he concluded.

Midfielder Pronay Halder - who returned back to the Mariners for the ongoing season after the end of his loan spell at Jamshedpur FC - also accompanied Ferrando in the pre-match press conference. Halder, who is yet to make a start for the Mariners this season, is hopeful of returning the favour back to FC Goa with a win this time.

"I think, FC Goa is one of the best teams in the history of ISL. We lost against them in the first league. If we can implement the valuable instructions given by our coach in our team meetings recently, we can win three points. He said, we have to rectify our mistakes committed in the last match. If we can obey his orders perfectly, we won’t lose," the midfielder stated.

The 29-year-old reiterated that his team is among one of the bests and have to deal with the injuries and focus on the match and come away with the three points.

"We all, Indians and foreigners, can play equally well. But we have to obey the instructions given by the coach. Right now, I can’t disclose what are the FC Goa’s loopholes, we want to exploit. But, if we can prepare perfectly and implement the plan made by the coach, we don’t have to bother about three points," Halder concluded.

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