It is safe to assume Coach Carles knew all this was coming. That if Bengaluru FC ever endured a slump in form and slipped off the pace, certainly in terms of top 4, then the scrutiny would be intensified both from within and outside the club.
Let’s retreat briefly to his inaugural press conference as the head coach of BFC after the departure of Albert Roca and with many journalists listening intently from the front row, he had been asked what did he have in mind. “What Albert achieved at the club is special and it won’t be easy to replicate. But I will be giving this opportunity everything I have, and I believe with the right amount of hard work and passion, we can keep achieving success at BFC,” the Spaniard exclaimed.
With each passing match-day, the tipping points had been a run of slapdash from which appeared to jeopardise play-off qualification, and with a demanding boardroom the gaffer could hardly arrest the slow decline. Now we are here again with the once-invincibles Bengaluru FC side far from feeling reinvigorated from the summer transfers, languishing fifth with only 3 wins out of 9 games. Now as the head coach is finally relieved off the duty by the club management, let’s put some light on who holds the onus for the slump of the Blues.
Carles Cuadrat’s tenures with Bengaluru FC: the rise and fall
In 2016, Carles Cuadrat Xiques was appointed as an assistant to Albert Roca. During his initial couple of years the club went on to winning Federation Cup in 2017 and Super Cup in 2018. The club also reached the AFC Cup final. Towards the end of 2017, the Spanish tactician left the club on a mutual consent owing to some health concerns.
After Roca’s departure at the end of the very season, Cuadrat was brought back; this time as head coach ahead of the 2018-19 season. “Lead us Carles”—this was the favourite hashtag used by the West Block Blues. Carles didn’t let them down as he led his team to their maiden and till-date only Hero Indian Super League trophy. Under his guidance, BFC became the only team to finish the table atop and win the trophy.
2019-20 season was not so cheerful in the Kanteerava but the team still managed to reach the playoffs only to fall short from ATKFC, the eventual champions. The club was able to score only 24 goals but they were the best team defensively as they conceded only 16.
The blues stood undefeated till the 6th match-day in 2020-21 season. However the hat-trick of defeats in the next 3 games and scoring only 12 goals while conceding the same, rose the eyebrows of the management.
The management: how they rolled every dice
“After deep deliberation with the management, we feel the club needs to head in a new direction – one where the ethos and philosophy of Bengaluru FC begins reflecting again. While we enjoyed success with Carles in the past, we felt there was a departure from the philosophy that we hold true this season, which prompted us to arrive at this decision,” stated owner Parth Jindal as he confirmed the departure of Carles.
The management of Bengaluru FC felt what we all did during the ongoing season. But to what extent—here lies the question. If we rewind to the post-match interview of Coach Cuadrat he clearly censured the club management for letting go some important players like Nishu Kumar and Albert Serran. “The club chose to change our defence, but it was the best last season” the gaffer was seemingly unhappy after the defeat to Mumbai City FC. “This is my job and I love it” Carles concluded.
Failing to find proper replacements of certain players:
Miku, John Johnson, Xisco, Nishu Kumar and Albert Serran. The mighty Bengaluru FC have housed some exceptional talents in Indian club football. However once they are departed, the replacements brought, are not upto the mark. For example—Bengaluru have tried to replace Miku with likes of Deshron Brown, Cleiton Silva and Kevaughn Frater. But no one could create an impact that once the Venezuelan had.
Nishu Kumar was proving himself pivotal in every clean-sheet that the club had during last couple of seasons. Still the cub let him move to Kerala Blasters earlier this summer. The same happened with Albert Serran also.
If we look a bit closer, these transfer window failures somewhere hold some responsibility for the shaggy season that we see BFC in today.
Bengaluru FC have appointed 49-year-old Naushad Moosa as the interim manager and he will lead the team until the club finds a perfect man according to their plan. “Meanwhile, our search for a replacement has already begun and we will be bringing in someone who we believe can further the philosophy and style of this club. Our ambition of challenging for titles while developing young talent that goes on to represent the country remains unchanged. We are currently in a good position this season and we back the staff and players to build on it in the coming weeks,” the club chairman’s official statement reads.
But just changing the manager will not be enough; we all know. The club should rebuild the squad. They should reinforce the defence and try to bring out more and more youngsters from their developmental systems. Bengaluru FC have always been great at tackling challenges and it would definitely be interesting to see how they are going to address the situation.