Need to build on from last game and be consistent with our performances: Mumbai City FC’s Des Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham praised his team for their efforts over the last ten games but wants them to better themselves in order to set the bar high again this season, as his side battles face Bengaluru FC in matchday 56 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season on Monday at the PJN Stadium in Margao, Goa.

While commenting on last game’s clean sheet, Buckingham added that his team needs to build on the defensive consistency apart from adding more goals upfront.

Ahead of his side’s game against Bengaluru FC, the Islanders manager addressed the media during a pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the press conference:

Your team had a victory against Bengaluru FC in the reverse fixture. So, how do you see this match as an opponent of Bengaluru FC?

I’m expecting a very similar game. It was a very tight affair against them the last time we played them, I think we went into the halftime with an even game where Nawaz [Mohammad] saved a penalty which kept us in the game and allowed us to go on to win it. They’re a good team

Regardless of who you’re playing at the moment, the league position is irrelevant because everyone is in the league at the moment and with the closeness of the points, everyone is capable of pulling off results against each other. So, we’re very much prepared and ready for what we face and we’re looking forward to the game.

Mumbai City FC have been winless in their last four matches. Do you want to alter anything or stick to what you’ve been doing so far?

We need to continue getting better at what we do. We’ve played some fantastic football over the past 10 games, not just the four you’ve mentioned, and it’s important that we’re showing signs of getting better. We’ll try to make sure that what we do is as good as it can be over a large period of time.

What are your thoughts on Vinit Rai who made his debut for the club in his previous game?

I thought he played well, he came on, was very calm and that’s part of the reason we brought him into the club. He’s an excellent player who will fit our style of football very well. We had only one training session with him but when he came on, he looked very comfortable and he’s an incredibly good midfielder.

We spent some time with him over the past two days, looking at how we can implement the style that we want to really enhance and help him play with the style of this team.

In the last game Mumbai City FC had a clean sheet. Do you think that has helped the defense?

Now we’re at the halfway point in the season, so, looking back at the ten games, we’ve had three clean sheets, which is just under the third of the games where we’ve had that. Yes, the last one was pleasing because the games prior to that we conceded 10 goals which, obviously, is not what we want.

But to address that and come away with a clean sheet was hugely pleasing as we had a young debutant in goal who started his first league game in goal, so for him and the backline to come away with that was good, and now we need to kick on and make sure that we continue that in the next couple of games while also scoring goals.

Ahmed Jahouh stands suspended for the game as he picked up four yellow cards. So, how does that impact your football stylistically for the game? And can we expect something different from the man in the middle of the park?

It gives us an option if we would like to change things to do that and also gives us an option with the foreign players that we have. So, we do have options available for tomorrow which I’ll leave for tomorrow.

You know, we have a way of working and doing things here and whoever comes into the team and however we go about our business, we follow a consistent routine and continue trying to get better in our plans.

The points gap between the teams is very less this season. So, do you have a set target in mind in regard to the points and the top four?

No, we don’t tend to look into that too much. We focus very much on our plans. To put some context into it, we’ve got comparisons that we draw from last year’s team, so we have some measures from there. And when we compare where we are after 10 rounds with the team from last year, we’re the team that has more possession, more passes, more shots on goal than the team last year.

So, we have those internal measures. Obviously, the external measures are important because that puts us where we want. I'm very happy as I said, especially this year, where there seems to be more teams beating other teams because of the strength of those teams. But the most important thing is that we continue to measure ourselves internally with our own measures internally.

And then make sure that it transpires onto the pitch, and I'm convinced if we can continue not only comparing ourselves to last year and showing improvement from that, but also spending time working on our playing style that if we can consistently perform in that manner and outperform that then we will put ourselves in a very strong position come the end of the season.

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