ISL musings: Boumous on song, Hyderabad keep Hyderabad-ing on

ATK Mohun Bagan's Hugo Boumous celebrates scoring against East Bengal in Saturday's Kolkata Derby. Vipin Pawar/Focus Sports/ ISL

Week three of the Indian Super League, well 'extended weekend' rather, and Hyderabad FC remain top of the table, with the chasing pack not exactly far behind. We reflect on the latest round of fixtures.

The Kolkata Derby delivers, again

After, how do I say this politely, an 'agricultural' derby in the Durand Cup, hopes weren't high for the quality of the Boro match, especially with rumours of a fan boycott and both sides facing questions regarding their form. Well, the fan boycott never materialized and an enthralled crowd were left captivated as both sides opted for a gung-ho approach.

When one of the managers is Stephen Constantine, you'd be left wondering just how gung-ho that gung-ho truly was. To his credit, East Bengal came out guns-a-blazing and were arguably the better side till Kamaljit Singh endured a torrid 10 minutes in goal and gifted the game to ATK Mohun Bagan. Speaking of gifts...

Dear Juan Ferrando,

Please do whatever is in your power to keep Hugo Boumous in the same mood he was when he took to the pitch at the Salt Lake stadium. Please. For the rest of the season. Pretty Please.

Yours, Football fans.

As my colleague Anirudh Menon pointed out, when Boumous is in the mood, he just 'flows...like water' across the pitch. Opponents are merely poor salmon swimming upstream to their deaths as Boumous glides imperiously past. His goal was lucky sure, but everything else was simply art on the pitch. Twinkle-toed, ingenious touches that left the crowd in awe, Boumous was head-and-shoulders above the other 30 footballers that played this game.

When he's in the mood, he is the best player on Indian shores, and I include Greg Stewart in this. The problem, however, is that he's not often in this mood, something that has probably made most of his previous managers tear their hair out.

Pray for Juan Ferrando's hair, or his shirt, that he's so keen on operating violently. We might witness the rending of garments if Boumous returns to his inconsistent ways. What will provide some succour to Ferrando though, is that his side achieved the win with Dimi Petratos keeping up his form, now topping the league in goal contributions (6). These are good omens for ATKMB, after a bit of a stuttering start.

Unfinished business on new East Bengal boss Constantine's mind as he gears up for ISL challenge

Fans on the other side of the Kolkata divide might also look at the result and a table where they are ninth, and think 'Oh no, not again'. However, this was probably the most competitive Kolkata derby in the ISL - and East Bengal are a far cry away from the side that so limply finished near the bottom in the last two seasons. There is fight in this side (as evidenced by them being near the top of the tackles and clearances charts) and they can compete for the playoff spots.

Hyderabad keep Hyderabad-ing on

Look, we've waxed lyrical about Bartholomew Ogbeche multiple times in this column, and he's so good that even playing in the dark wouldn't bother him, which the Gachibowli stadium nearly made him do.

As it was, his headed assist for Javi Siverio took place in full view of a sizeable, adoring crowd with Hyderabad hanging on for a win against Goa that took them to the top of the table. Laxmikant Kattimani's aura and reputation when it comes to stopping penalties are so good that Alvaro Vazquez flashed his attempt from the spot well wide. If only there was a rule that allowed penalties to be volleyed in from range...

Carlos Pena, though, can take great heart from the loss. His side leads the league in multiple possession stats and possesses the meanest defence (two goals conceded in three games). They pushed a Hyderabad side that is arguably the best in the land all the way, dominating the ball and inducing a fair amount of nervy moments. These are promising signs quite early into his managerial career, and his compatriot Manolo Marquez is quite the example of the value of managerial patience. Goa have a good thing on their hands.

Blasters are a dichotomy unto themselves

On paper, a 0-2 loss to Mumbai City and being second-from-last in the table 20% into the season... does not make for good reading. Neither does having the worst xG conceded bar NEUFC (5.9), most goals conceded (10) and missing the biggest chances (8). To twist the knife further into the Manjappada, watching one of their favourite sons, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, return and score against them. Yeah, ouch.

Still, Ivan Vukomanovic is a patient man, and he will point to the Blasters having the second-best xG (5.2) in the league, as well as having created the most big chances (8), making the third-most interceptions in the league and being second in winning the ball in the final third. The ingredients are there - not many teams have outpassed a Des Buckingham side, as Kerala did.

Whether a demanding fanbase will remain patient or get mixed up in taunts to their club captain on social media... well, one can only guess.

Odisha underline their status as dark horses

Away from the drama surrounding the rest of the clubs in the ISL, Josep Gombau has quietly built a side that can dig deep to eke out results, with two late winners and a narrow, hard-fought win over Bengaluru in their latest game. Nandhakumar Sekar emphasizes this never-say-die attitude, the combination of grit and good football on display like much of his teammates, as he scored a screamer and then worked incredibly hard to protect that lead.

Bengaluru had their moments, but Simon Grayson's side remains blunt in front of goal, which is quite galling when that frontline has two of the best-ever strikers in the ISL and the most promising young Indian striker.

Aidy Boothroyd is as English as ever

Jamshedpur FC came into the game against NorthEast with the least average possession stats of any team (33%) and NEUFC let them have 53% of the ball. Not that the league-shield champions of last year knew what to do with much of it other than lump it forward to Daniel Chima Chukwu and Harry Sawyer up front, and they fail to even do that accurately (41%).

Nonetheless, Peter Hartley stepped up to score from a corner, not with his head this time, and JFC had their first win of the season. It's a far cry from the exciting side of last year, but if the results are there, Aidy Boothroyd won't care a jot.