We must overcome different types of challenges to win games consistently: Mumbai City FC’s Des Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham stated that his team has to be prepared and must approach the upcoming match against Kerala Blasters FC in the same manner as the earlier games in order to secure the three points in match 35 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season on Sunday at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda, Goa.

Buckingham has carried on from where Sergio Lobera left off and has evolved their gameplan since joining as head coach this season. The 36-year-old also expressed delight over the adaptability of the players and also with the work that they’re putting in.

Ahead of his side’s clash against Kerala Blasters FC, Buckingham addressed the media during a pre-match press conference:

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:

What are your thoughts on the level of players? Where are they in terms of where you want them to be?

As I’ve said before, I’m extremely happy with where the players are, based on the time we’ve had available to us with them. I think we were the last team to start the pre-season and actually assemble our squad together as we haven’t had as much time as others. I’m happy with the work we’ve done and how the players have adapted in a short span of time. 

What is your assessment of your season so far?

My assessment is that it’s been a good start, that’s it. We’re only six games into a 20-game season, so it’s important that we get better with each game. We’ve spoken about taking this plan since the end of last year and I think we’ve shown enough signs now that we’ve started to do that.

We need to make sure that in every game, you know, we're going to come up against different challenges, so we need to make sure that we've got different answers and different ways of winning games.

Your team has demonstrated the ability to win against various teams with the help of a variety of tactics. So, is this something that you stress a lot on during training, to change your approach based on the team you’re facing?  

We have a truly clear framework about how we want to play, and that’s something that we’ve really tried working and involving players in the last 12 to 14 weeks. But when we face opposition in different teams, we want to stick true to our playing style. There will always be slight tweaks and changes in terms of how we want to approach each game.

But the overall is a sort of 80% and 20%. The 80% is making sure we stick to our playing style and the remaining 20% there will be slight differences in the games that we feel we need to adapt to try and get the success that we desire.

Do you think your team's adeptness from set pieces will be handy once again in the next match?

They play a major part not just in our team but across the league itself, there are several goals scored from set-pieces. For any league across the world, goals from set-pieces generally account for anything between 30-50% and that includes World Cups.

So, yes, they are an important part of our game because they give us a unique way of scoring, which was important in our last game. But again, that’s only one part of what we want to do, we do pay attention to it but not more than our in-possession and out-possession of the game.

What are your observations of Kerala Blasters FC?

They’re a particularly good team. They press high, and I actually had the pleasure of working with one of their players - Adrian Luna who’s had a fantastic start to their season and is very influential in their gameplay. I look forward to connecting with him tomorrow and [jokingly] hope he doesn’t play as well as he’s done in the previous games.

But again, it's the same as any other team. You know, we'll prepare as well as we can for what we’re going to face, because if we don't, any team in this league is capable of beating any team. So, we need to make sure that we approach this game in the same way as we have for the previous six [games].

How do you see Ahmed Jahouh as a player and how important is he for the team?

Jahouh has been performing very well for this team and a lot of play went through him last year in terms of the style. So, what we wanted to do this year is evolve and take that on a step further. We’ve done that, we’ve paired him with Rowllin Borges, we’ve paired him with Apuia [Lalengmawia] in the last six games.

We want to see if we can become more influential in different areas of the pitch because we know he’s got the capability from set-pieces, we know his range of passes are extremely good when he drops into the backline. We’re trying to play with his position to try and get into more advanced areas of the pitch to have a higher impact on the game.

He’s influential because of the way he plays within the system and because of the players around him being in the position that they need to be.

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