ATK Mohun Bagan is a strong favourite to win the Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season. Their squad is full of exceptional players who can single-handedly turn the complexion of the game in their favour. The Mariners won comfortably against Kerala Blasters FC and SC East Bengal in their first two games of the season.
However, the club has lost their last two matches consecutively against Mumbai City FC and Jamshedpur FC, shocking their fans and the neutrals alike. In these defeats, several issues in the squad have emerged that will require immediate resolution. Bagan are a behemoth in terms of squad depth and have one of the strongest set of Indian players in the league. Yet, their performances in the last two matches have been disappointing.
They are up against a defensively solid Chennaiyin FC team in their next fixture which means the going will get tough. Here is a look at the five reasons behind ATK Mohun Bagan's recent failures:
Underperforming key players
Traditionally, ATK Mohun Bagan's success has come on the back of strong individual performances. The perfect point in case is Roy Krishna, who has rescued the team on many occasions thanks to his goals. The Fijian has lacked consistency in the initial part of the season, despite scoring twice in four games.
Manvir Singh was bitterly disappointing in both defeats as well after scoring a fabulous goal against SCEB earlier. Amrinder Singh has not looked settled and conceding nine goals already will further shake his confidence.
Unfortunate refereeing decisions
The match against Mumbai City FC was overshadowed by key decisions from the referees which came under a lot of controversies. Post the 5-1 defeat to MCFC, the higher-ups at the Mariners formally protested against the refereeing decisions, calling for strict measures to be taken.
Incidents like the red card to Deepak Tangri, handball goal from Vikram Pratap Singh, Mourtada Fall's offside goal and elbow on Roy Krishna among others were mentioned. The outfit was unlucky to be at the receiving end of bad refereeing decisions which ultimately cost them the match.
A frail defence
ATK Mohun Bagan's defence came under the lens after their embarrassing 6-0 defeat to FC Nasaf in the AFC Cup. Tiri's absence has not helped the club's cause which has conceded nine goals in four matches already. The defensive pairing of Carl McHugh and Deepak Tangri have not looked the strongest.
Fielding a back-three against Jamshedpur FC turned out to be counter-productive as it gave JFC a lot of room on the wings. Habas needs to fix the gaping issues at the back, find a stable defence and prevent goals from going in.
Losing against MCFC was a tough blow to take. The manner of the defeat and the scoreline were very demoralising. The after-effects of that defeat could be seen in ATKMB's performance against the Red Miners. A team that aims to win the league stage and the playoffs should have a stronger mentality.
The players looked clueless and lacked focus against JFC, which was evident in their performance. This is where Habas needs to use his experience and get his players fighting again. In an unpredictable league like the ISL, having a strong character will take the team a long way.
Some of the decisions from head coach Antonio Lopes Habas have come under the scanner. Roy Krishna has often looked overwhelmed because the opposition know the threat he poses and a lack of 'plan B' has made the club's attack predictable.
Bringing on Ashutosh Mehta and Sumit Rathi and changing to a back-three against JFC did not pay dividends. Dropping an in-form player like Liston Colaco against JFC was a negative move and did not play to the team's strengths. These decisions have certainly added to ATKMB's woes and recent failures.