The Hyderabad FC co-owner opened up on the team’s transition between three head coaches.
Standing comfortably in the top four after consecutive games and displaying some brilliant football, Hyderabad FC have made a firm statement of intent in the Indian Super League 2020-21 season. However, things were contrasting when the club first made their way into the top flight last season. Co-owner Varun Tripuraneni explained how they overcame the odds to overturn the big shots of the league this term.
Varun, who has, over the years, seen Indian football inside-out, shared some interesting insight into Hyderabad FC’s transformation in the ISL, as he appeared on Khel Now’s Beyond The Scores podcast.
“When we put together the new franchise, we knew it was going to be a challenge both on and off the pitch. We hardly had any time to work on our training pitches,” he began.
“So, we just had to get through the season and didn’t really have many expectations as to where we want the team to finish. Obviously, we didn’t want to finish at the bottom which is where we eventually did. So, yes it was a challenge.”
The former Kerala Blasters CEO described how the club took their time to settle into the pace of the league. One can only imagine the amount of work that had to be put in order for the organization to make their way into the ISL and thrive under the pressure of facing the heavyweights. At Hyderabad, they took it on their chins and moved on.
Their recent successes aren’t the result of the good work done in pre-season. Infact, as Varun Tripuraneni says, the plans for the ongoing season were put in place way back from December 2019 onward.
Speaking about the managerial changes, the co-owner insisted that till date, he shares a mutual respect with former head coach Phil Brown. The Englishman had faced the sack last season after the team failed to produce positive results. “We still discuss the games of the ongoing season, which explains the good rapport I have with him. He’s seen many players like (Mohammad) Yasir and Asish (Rai), both of whom are having a good time and I’m sure he must be very happy for us.”
Adding to that, Varun Tripuraneni also explained the thought process behind bringing in someone like Albert Roca to take charge of the team. “Albert had good experience in India, he knows the league and players fairly well. It was the decision we needed to take in the interest of the club,” he said. Although Roca was to join ahead of the 2020-21 season, he kept close tabs with the team and identified the areas for improvement.
Then in the January transfer window of last season, the club made some interesting signings including those of Liston Colaco, Hitesh Sharma and Souvik Chakrabarti. Roca played a crucial role in the process of team-building for 2020-21.
However, at that time, the Nizams were in a worrisome position in the league to attract young talent as well as other good players. Varun Tripuraneni explained how the initial talks with Albert Roca took place. It would certainly not have been an easy task to convince the Spaniard to take over the role.
But as the saying goes ‘Whatever happens, happens for the best’ and for Hyderabad FC, it was the turn of fortunes. Albert Roca came on board and had a significant role to play along with the club’s director of football Sujay Sharma. The duo put together a strong squad for the 2020-21 campaign.
Thereafter, an unexpected offer from FC Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman saw Roca leave the club. For a setup that banked on his services in the ongoing season, it naturally became a dilemma.
“Initially, we were in shock when we heard about it and that Albert wanted to leave because it was Barcelona. It was a very difficult situation for us and I’m sure for Albert too,” Varun Tripuraneni said as he described the tough time at the club before the season.
He explained how the management tried to convince the former Bengaluru FC head coach to stay. However, considering the big offer, they understood that it wasn’t going to go their way. Moreover, with pre-season looming, they had to act quickly and find Roca’s replacement.
It was then that Hyderabad FC brought in a certain Manuel Roca aka Manolo Marquez. The Spaniard turned eyeballs upon his arrival. Speaking about whether his predecessor played a role in his appointment, Varun Tripuraneni denied any direct influence.
“We did take feedback from Albert and he was actually very happy (with Marquez’s appointment). He felt Manolo was one of the coaches who could take on the work which was started. He also felt that we got the right coach on board,” he revealed.