The tactician shared his experiences working in Indian football during a candid conversation.

Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Bengaluru FC decided to part ways with their former head coach Carles Cuadrat midway during the 2020-21 campaign. The decision was made with the club not playing their best football, but only one point away from the playoffs spots. The termination of contract with Carles Cuadrat eventually meant that the team finished nine points away from FC Goa, who were placed fourth. That, in turn, led to them missing out on the playoffs for the first time in the ISL.

Cuadrat’s dismissal did surprise a few sections of the fans since he had won the title with the Blues back in 2018-19. He took the mantle after Albert Roca left his post as head coach in 2018. He got the job after working as an assistant under his fellow Spaniard.

Many believed that the club should have stuck by their tactician, who otherwise had a decent track record in Indian football, being the coach to get more points/game (1.70) in ISL history than any other person except Sergio Lobera and Alberto Roca. That way, his stint has been better than that of others like Antonio Habas or John Gregory. Promising new coaches like Juan Ferrando (1.45 points/game), Manolo Marquez (1.45) and Khalid Jamil (1.69) are also behind him for the time being.

While speaking on Khel Now’s ‘Beyond The Scores’ podcast, Carles Cuadrat talked about several topics ranging from Indian football to his various experiences working here. He also gave his opinion on the transition of Bengaluru FC from the I-League to the ISL and his relationship with Roca. Here are a few excerpts from the conversation:

Transition from I-League to Indian Super League

Carles Cuadrat on Bengaluru FC, Albert Roca and more

BFC made the transition from the I-League to the ISL ahead of the 2017-18 season. Talking about that specific time in the club’s history, he said, “We finished fourth in the I-League (back then) and in one moment of the season we struggled with results. We were not able to win in eight games in a row, even with a top quality Indian squad with players like Sandesh Jhingan, Mandar Rao Dessai, CK Vineeth, Amrinder Singh and Lenny Rodrigues joining the likes of Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Nishu Kumar and Harmanjot Khabra.

“The winners that season were Aizawl FC. But, at the same time (our) team was a very good team and we won the Federation Cup in 2017. The next season was the first season for Bengaluru in the ISL, so the club invested in foreigners and we had a really powerful squad.

“Unfortunately, we lost in the final against Chennaiyin at Kanteerava, which was a sad day because we had everything in our favour at that moment, with the dynamics, stadium and supporters favouring us.  But, it just did not happen. Next season, I had the opportunity to work again for Bengaluru and take a little revenge. We became champions of the regular season and the final. It was very nice feeling to finish getting the thing we did not get before,” he further added. 

Taking the next step

The Spaniard became the head coach of the Blues right before the 2018-19 season. Carles Cuadrat talked about the transition between the roles, saying, “It was not an easy decision for me because until that moment, I was always working with Albert Roca. I left the FC Barcelona Academy to go to Galatasaray and the Saudi Arabia national team to work with (Frank) Rijkaard and Roca and later in the El Salvador national team and lastly with Bengaluru. I took that decision because the club showed confidence in me. Management, supporters, and players like Sunil (Chhetri), Juanan, Erik (Paartalu) and Miku, all of them were supporting me. It was Roca who was the person to say that I could be the right coach to make that kind of transition.

“Only because of Albert Roca, the players and the management I took the responsibility. Otherwise, maybe I would still be working with him. I am happy I made that decision at that moment. It was like a challenge for me to put myself in that type of pressure. But, I am happy things worked well for all of us and we become champions,” the tactician continued in this regard.

A word on Albert Roca and Indian national team

Albert Roca was in the running for the Indian national team job before Igor Stimac took the role. Carles Cuadrat explained if he found it surprising that India did not choose someone experienced like Roca and let-go of the opportunity to appoint him at the helm of the Blue Tigers. 

“It is not about surprising or not. They were talking, trying to build a project and finalize the details, but they could not find an agreement. It’s not like India missed the opportunity to appoint someone like Roca, it’s just that both parties did not find an agreement,” the 52-year-old opined in this context.

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