Juan Ferrando: Winning the ISL a motivation for all of us
The ATK Mohun Bagan boss talks about winning the title and focussing on the Super Cup ahead.
120 minutes of hard-fought action. A tie-breaker to seal the deal. It was ATK Mohun Bagan’s night at the Fatorda Stadium, just two weeks back. The turbulence was over. A hectic campaign progressed toward its conclusion as Pritam Kotal went up to the pedestal to lift the ISL Trophy. A first for the Mariners. But who was the main man behind this success? The man who held the team together, when it seemed a playoff spot was a far cry. Who other than the mentor – Juan Ferrando.
From the start of the season, till the end, Ferrando’s season went through numerous downs but at the end, the curve went high. And let’s keep this in mind, the curve hasn’t reached its peak.
After lifting the much-desired accolade, ATK Mohun Bagan boss Juan Ferrando spoke exclusively to Khel Now. Here’s how the conversation went.
Promise made to the club hierarchy
Before the ISL 2022-23 grand finale, Juan Ferrando had mentioned that after losing out to NorthEast United on Christmas eve, he had promised the board that ATK Mohun Bagan will lift the ISL Trophy this season.
But was it a statement made out of emotions? Or did the tactician have a certain belief? He said, “I was sure our squad was good enough and we could do it despite all the circumstances. I don’t know how to express it, I just felt it that way and I told the management.”
The mentor elaborated more on the topic, “It was Christmas time. We were all upset and looking to add some players to the squad because we only had three foreigners fully fit. It was then that it became clear that the need to incorporate these players had to be a priority.”
Staying focused for the Super Cup
In a few days, ATK Mohun Bagan will again take the field, this time for the Super Cup. After such a milestone victory, will it be tough to keep the site focused and motivated? How does he plan to execute his motivation on the side?
Juan Ferrando mentioned, “Winning the ISL must be a motivation for all of us. For me as a coach, for the staff and for the players in their effort to excel. We are a professional team and we have to behave as such.”
Tiri and Kauko available for Super Cup?
Both Tiri and Joni Kauko were witnessed at the Fatorda on the eve of the ISL final. Despite undergoing their recovery process, the two ‘important’ soldiers of the Mariners’ army came to cheer their side when they needed them the most.
Juan Ferrando shed light on their availability for the Super Cup, “Tiri may be able to recover for the Super Cup, but I think Joni might need a little more time.”
- Top five highlights from AIFF League Committee’s meeting on May 1
- Four positions Kerala Blasters need to fix this summer
- I-League Second Division 2023: Teams which qualified for final round
- Yan Dhanda reveals his favourite Indian players
Executing the ‘False 9’ strategy
Hailing from Barcelona himself, Ferrando is a person who believes in implementing a false 9 upfront. That was the primary reason for signing Dimitri Petratos, who is more of an attacking midfielder rather than a poacher. The Mariners’ tactician received less appreciation for this implementation though, as the fans were enraged by the team failing to score from the numerous chances created.
No anger. No hatred for any critic. A gentle reply came our way, “In football, as in life, when you believe in something, you must try to carry your idea to the end. If there were no obstacles, perhaps the prize would not be so sweet.”
Changing the formation
In the Durand Cup, ATK Mohun Bagan were seen playing with a three-man backline. But the club didn’t achieve success or couldn’t impress much with the same. Their results were affected as they couldn’t make it to the semi-finals. So, to get things back on track, the mentor implemented a minor change or shifted to a four-man backline. This produced wonders.
Ferrando shed light, “Due to injuries, we couldn’t transfer to the pitch all the ideas we had been working on during the pre-season. Therefore, we had to look for alternatives and that was one of the necessary changes.”
Why signing both Puitea and Glan Martins?
Puitea was roped in by ATK Mohun Bagan at the start of the year, and after a few days, they also bagged the services of Glan Martins. Was there a need of signing two defensive midfielders, whose style of play is more or less similar?
Juan Ferrando stated, “Puitea was the safe option to help us while Tangri was injured, and at that time Glan was an option yet to be confirmed.”
The mentor further praised his student, whose career undoubtedly, has been shaped by him. “I think we’ve all seen that Glan has a great ability to balance the team, both defensively and offensively. He is very good at high-intensity press and build-up. These abilities help the team.”
No Vishal Kaith in National team!
Vishal Kaith was the standout performer for ATK Mohun Bagan. With 12 clean sheets throughout the campaign, the 26-year-old received the Golden Glove too! But despite such acrobatic and brilliant outings, Indian team head coach Igor Stimac didn’t call him for the main squad for the Tri-Nation Friendly Tournament.
Should Igor Stimac have considered Kaith’s inclusion into the squad? Juan Ferrando said, “It is a difficult question to answer. I can only say that the coach of the National Team is Igor and I understand that he makes the best decisions according to his way of working and his idea of football.”
Communicating with Slavko Damjanovic
After a sensational display against East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby, the media were waiting to welcome Slavko Damjanovic at the press conference. But an update came their way that Slavko can’t speak English, hence Dimitri Petratos, the other goal-scorer will be accompanying the mentor.
Communication is important in football. When asked how he does that with Slavko, Ferrando quipped, “We use videos and other media to communicate with each other. He does his best to be focused and understand, so the communication ends up being easier than it may seem.”
Youth development at Mohun Bagan
Fans have witnessed in the past that Juan Ferrando has a knack for cultivating young, raw talent from the club’s academies. At FC Goa, it was he to gave a chance to young Devendra Murgaonkar and others. Thus, with ATK Mohun Bagan now rejuvenating their youth development programme under the leadership of veteran Sanjoy Sen, fans came to expect their side to field more youngsters in future.
Juan Ferrando shed light on his plans with the youth, “We want to help players understand basic concepts and develop skills so they can join the first team when ready. That is the main goal of everyone here.”
How does Juan Ferrando build a team?
Irrespective of which club he is based at, Juan Ferrando certainly has a way of choosing players for his philosophy. What does he demand from the players?
“I’m mainly looking for players who want to grow in football, have ambition and, most importantly, who believe in teamwork.”