Top three challenges for Manolo Marquez at FC Goa
Manolo Marquez has joined with his entire coaching staff from Hyderabad FC.
Following an ISL winning season and then finishing runners-up in the Shield the next season with Hyderabad FC, Spanish coach Manolo Marquez‘s toughest task yet in the Indian Super League awaits in the form of his new FC Goa job.
The Gaurs have missed out on the playoffs for two consecutive seasons now. Although Carlos Pena gave the fans a few highs, Goan fans and football culture demand a higher standard and Marquez will be expected to deliver on these standards.
With that said, let’s look at the three biggest challenges Manolo Marquez will face at FC Goa.
The Gaurs conceded 35 goals in the 2022-23 ISL season – making them the fourth worst defence in the league. They managed just four clean sheets while conceding 1.8 goals per game.
The error-prone nature of the Goan defence is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that the club conceded seven penalties, of which all seven were scored. Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh and centre-backs Anwar Ali and Fares Arnaout are the main contributors not just to this statistic but the general sloppiness of the defence on the Goan coasts.
Manolo Marquez will hope Sandesh Jhingan’s arrival in place of Anwar Ali kickstarts the process of fortifying FC Goa’s defence. Moreover, Hyderabad FC were one of those sides which conceded the least goals (16) last season. So, the fans will be hopeful of Marquez bringing in a revolution in the defensive third.
How will the attack look?
After arriving at FC Goa as the most anticipated signing of the season, Spanish striker Alvaro Vazquez managed to put up a measly sum of four goal contributions in his 17 matches – one goal and three assists. But many chalk this down to Pena’s lack of attacking imagination and the team’s over-reliance on Noah Sadaoui.
While Vazquez might not be retained, Marquez still has to figure out the solution to two challenges: the lack of Indian attacking contribution and a reliable No. 9.
Only six Indian players contributed to goals and it amounted to just 12 out of FC Goa’s 36. They were overly reliant on the foreign duo of Noah Sadaoui and Iker Guarrotxena.
Vazquez’s probable departure also opens up a No. 9 slot. Despite securing several early signings, none of FC Goa’s signings seem to be a proper replacement for the Spaniard. Either the management is yet to sign that player or perhaps Manolo Marquez plans to set up tactically in a way that does not require a replacement.
In the 2022-23 ISL season, the Gaurs failed to stage a single comeback win after conceding first. Yet, a total comeback is what the side will need under Manolo Marquez next season.
The morale of the squad will be down after failing to qualify for the playoffs in two consecutive seasons. Carlos Pena’s departure adds uncertainty to the mix. Marquez will have to make sure the transition is smooth and lift the morale of the players.
Disappointing performances have also resulted in decreasing fan attendance and support. The Gaurs need to draw fans back to the stadium for the mental edge that home support provides.
But in Manolo Marquez, FC Goa have a proven winner and an experienced manager.
FC Goa are in a transition period. Unfortunately, for the coastal club, this transition period comes after two disappointing seasons. But fortunately, for Manolo Marquez, he has several resources at his disposal to reverse the club’s fortunes.
Known for his ability to bring the best out of youngsters, the Spanish manager will look forward to utilising the young talent in the squad and the talent coming through Goa’s renowned academy.
The squad is also exciting, as the array of attacking talent grants Manolo Marquez the keys to attack with multiple tactical approaches, while on the other hand, gaps in the squad are being filled by the Gaurs’ transfer activity.