ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Juan Ferrando extended his support to his players and backed them to come good in their upcoming clash against Jamshedpur FC in Matchweek 19 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the JRD Tata Sports Complex, in Jamshedpur, on Thursday.

The Mariners have had a mixed results in their last five games, winning two and losing as many games, while drawing one game. Their 2-1 defeat to Bengaluru FC was their fifth loss of the season. ATK Mohun Bagan are placed fifth in the Hero ISL standings, level on points with fourth-placed FC Goa, who have played a game more. 

Despite the stronghold in their defensive duties, the Mariners have been feeble in the attacking department. Juan Ferrando’s men have scored just 20 goals in 16 games so far this season, the fourth lowest tally in the league this season. Ferrando reaffirmed that his side has been constantly working on the key areas of improvement and said that his players need support.    

“We have a lot of matches with very clear opportunities. We miss a lot of chances. If one team has three or four shots on target, they have one goal. In our situation, we have very much eight, nine shots on target, and sometimes we have zero goals. We’re continuously working on this third part in the attack. Maybe it’s psychological, maybe it’s emotional, maybe confidence, but there exists several (other) reasons,” Ferrando stated in the official pre-match press conference. 

“More than extra technical or extra tactical, sometimes we are just unlucky or sometimes it is necessary to explain our performance. For example, against Mumbai City FC, against Odisha FC, the keeper’s performance was perfect. This case is accepted. You know, in all the matches, the opponents normally play against us with extra motivation, it’s normal. For me, it is necessary to accept this. Of course, we are unhappy with the situation but we have to continue to support the players, explain to them that the responsibility in attack, in defence, is for all the team,” he added.

The Mariners took 13 shots and created 13 chances in their game against Bengaluru FC, but were able to convert only once despite contributions from almost every outfield player. The lack of clinicality has been a recurring problem and the side has not been able to find consistency in the recent games. The Spaniard acknowledged the struggles of his team in the final third, and stated that his players can perform better. 

“We have a plan against our opponents, of course. In the end, you have to be smart in making the right decisions. In the last match against Bengaluru FC, we weren’t good as per our plan in the first half. Of course, in the second half, in some details, we got the control. The difficult part for us were the transitions during the game. Every match is different, but more or less, Jamshedpur FC, East Bengal FC, Bengaluru FC have the same mentality, but for us the most important thing is to take the best decisions in every moment. I repeat again, I have trust in these players, I know they can do better because in the end it is important to get the three points and be in the playoffs,” he said.

The ongoing season has witnessed a huge drop in terms of goal contributions by ATK Mohun Bagan's Indian contingent of attackers, with Liston Colaco and Manvir Singh contributing to a total of just three goals out of the 20 goals scored by the side. While Manvir suffered an injury and remained on the sidelines for a few games, Colaco has blown hot and cold in the ongoing season. The Goan forward was the leading Indian goalscorer of last season with eight goals and five assists to his name and has not been able to replicate last season's form. 

Ferrando backed the youngster to bounce back from his rough patch and mentioned about Colaco going through a learning and developmental stage in his career.

“The most important is to support him (Colaco) to be a regular at matches, and normally here, the local players, the young players when they have no success in one dribbling, in one cross, in a one-on-one with the keeper, immediately they are out of confidence. After this, the second time they lose the ball, the third time is the same. In the next match, if the last match’s feelings are not good, at the end, you play like eight players on the field,” he said. 

“The solution for this is continuing the confidence to support them because I repeat that although it's important to win the matches, it's equally important to support the players to be confident and continue working. When they are not in good performance, we have to support and find different solutions. Liston, at the moment, is not in good performance, but our target is to support him. I repeat the same, he is 24 years old, the best moment of his career is 26-27-28-29. If he has problems now, it's a great opportunity for him to learn because maybe in future, he will be in the best position, you know, this is my point,” he added.

“At the end of the season, if it’s not the best performance, no worries, the most important thing is the learning, to continue fighting and working. If you are working in a good way, of course, the mentality changes, the confidence changes, and a lot of things. But in our case, of course, we are upset when we have no success but I trust the players to change this mentality when you're not in good performance,” Ferrando concluded.