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Where It All Went Wrong for Carles Cuadrat at Bengaluru FC

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In a surprising turn of events following that disappointing 1-3 defeat at the hands of Mumbai City, Bengaluru FC have parted ways with manager Carles Cuadrat by mutual consent.

Cuadrat joined Bengaluru FC in 2016 as Albert Roca’s assistant. In a two-year stint, he helped the club win an I-League title, reach the AFC Cup final and transition to the Indian Super League. In December 2017, Cuadrat left the club by mutual consent owing to health concerns.

He rejoined only seven months later, this time as head coach following the dismissal of Albert Roca. In his first season in India as a manager, Cuadrat and his Bengaluru FC side took the league by storm as they won the title and set a number of records along the way.

  1. An 11-match unbeaten run – the longest in ISL history
  2. A six-match winning streak – another ISL record.
  3. Winning the league and final of the ISL in the same season – becoming the first and only manager to ever do so.

2019/20 wasn’t too bad far Cuadrat either, he guided his side to a third-place finish in the league stages, making it three out of three play-off qualifications for them. To add to that, they also recorded their biggest-ever win in the AFC Cup qualifiers by beating Paro FC 9-1.

However, this was also perhaps the season that the root of the problems which would eventually lead to Cuadrat’s sacking grow. 14 of Bengaluru FC’s 22 goals were scored from set-pieces, and while this displayed the Spaniard’s mastery in this regard, it also opened up a weakness as far as goals from open play were concerned.

Things were similar in the initial stages of the current campaign, as the Blues scored their first four goals from dead-ball situations (including penalties and long-throws). The match against Kerala Blasters was a welcome glitch in the matrix, as BFC scored three open-play goals. Ever since they have let in four out of five set-piece goals. Further, after the match against Odisha FC, they have only netted once, which was from the penalty spot.

The match against Odisha FC posed another great problem – a season-ending injury to Ashique Kuruniyan. The Indian international was crucial to Cuadrat’s tactical setup as his bombing runs up and down the left flank were key to Bengaluru FC’s attacks, while also freeing up Sunil Chhetri to drift inside and move closer to goal.

Cuadrat had three attempts to solve these problems, and he never looked like getting anywhere near that – the Blues continued leaking set-piece goals while he persisted with Rahul Bheke, a right-footed left-back. In their longest losing streak in the ISL, the problems continued to mount.

Unsurprisingly, this did not go down well with the management.

The first step in fixing this well see assistant coach Naushad Moosa take charge as interim manager.

Here’s what Parth Jindal, CEO of Bengaluru FC had to say:

“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 begin 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,

“We are confident he will get the team to play the kind of football that we have based our success on. 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.”

Unfortunately for the Blues, the problems are rooted much deeper than just the manager. Mossa, and whoever succeeds him, have a number of problems caused by recruitment issues to address.

Bengaluru FC only have two fit right-footed left-backs, one foreign defender, two natural wingers (one of who is the struggling Udanta Singh) and two misfiring foreign strikers. The personnel, and the people who chose the, don’t look so good.

These certainly are turbulent times for Bengaluru FC, but let’s see if they can find their way back to the top.