The Spaniard hopes to do one better than his achievements with FC Goa by winning the ISL with Mumbai City…
Sergio Lobera has revealed that he has always been an admirer of Mumbai City FC before joining the Islanders following his exit from FC Goa towards the end of last season.
Having joined the City Football Group (CFG) side, he said, “I think it’s the best place to work now because it’s a bigger step in my career. The support and advice I can receive from the City Football Group are very helpful for me and Mumbai City always was a club I admired. I think they have very good players and it’s the best place to try and implement my ideas.
During his time in India, Lobera led FC Goa to the play-offs in each of the three seasons including a final appearance, won the club its first major piece of silverware in the form of the 2019 Super Cup before parting ways with the Goan outfit when they were atop the standings in the 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) with only three matches to go in the league stage.
While at Mumbai City, over the past couple of seasons, Jorge Costa managed to build a formidable side with a strong defensive organisation and a counter-attack philosophy – something that is expected to change under Lobera who professes a free-flowing, attacking brand of football.
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“I respect all coaches and it’s important to respect the different styles of play, but after working for eight years at FC Barcelona my belief is in (attacking) football. Thankfully, until now I could decide where I can work and I always try to go to a club where it is possible to implement my philosophy.
“I think Costa did a very good job at Mumbai and now is a new era. I will try to help the club in my position as much as possible,” the new Mumbai City coach insisted.
At FC Goa, Lobera boasts of an enviable record of winning 29 of his 56 games in charge of the Gaurs (a win ratio of 52 per cent) – the best numbers in his managerial career so far.
“[To do] better [than what I did at FC Goa] is difficult. Now I only need to think about how to win the ISL,” he quipped. “It is very difficult but I accept the challenge. If I am here, it’s because I believe it is possible (to win the ISL with Mumbai City).
“I don’t like to compare with another club because when you compare with another club, you try to explain how the other clubs are working and I am not at these (other) clubs. I don’t try to compare but I know how the situation is inside Mumbai City and City Football Group and I think it is the best,” he stated.
Players like Ahmed Jahouh, Hugo Boumous, Mandar Rao Dessai and Mourtada Fall have all followed Lobera from Goa to Mumbai and Lobera feels players who are familiar with his style will help him implement his philosophy.
“I think if you have players who have played under you before, you can implement the style of play easier and I am very happy that they decided to come on board with us for sporting reasons. When I read some news about the money (fees), only the club can answer if they had the best offers.
“If they decided to come and play with us, it is because they want to play in our style of play and be part of the Mumbai City family and the City Football Group. I am very happy and proud about that,” the 43-year-old esteemed.
However, if you’re wondering how long until Mumbai City can absorb Lobera’s attacking style of football, his response was – “It’s not easy. We have a short time, we have new players and a fresh squad. We are talking about Mandar, Boumous, Jahouh, Fall, but I have 28 players. You know that, at FC Goa, the first season was not the same as the second and the second was not the same as the third. I try to improve every day but I need to be competitive from the first day.”
Under Lobera, FC Goa has always dominated Mumbai City. With the clubs to cross paths in an exciting encounter on November 25, will that change?
“I don’t know. This is the past and I have not predicted the future, but hopefully, we can play very well against all teams and against Goa,” Lobera signed off.