Albert Roca's two-year stint in charge of Bengaluru FC came to an end on Thursday as the Spaniard parted ways with the club amicably. Roca was leaving after guiding the team to the Inter-Zonal playoffs in the AFC Cup which, coincidentally, was where he took charge of the team in 2016.
Life with Bengaluru FC came a full circle for Roca in two years and brought with it a couple of silverware. He led the team to the final of the AFC Cup 2016 immediately after taking over and won the Federation Cup in 2017. Though they stumbled at the Inter-Zonal final in the 2017 AFC Cup, Roca followed it up with a final appearance in the Indian Super League (ISL) and a Super Cup triumph in 2018.
The former Barcelona assistant coach had a profound effect on Bengaluru's playing style and turned the team into one of the most recognisable outfits in the country. Certainly a praise-worthy two years for any coach.
But the fact remains that he failed to win the three major tournaments that Bengaluru participated in during his stint.
After the AFC Cup final defeat to Al Quwa Al Jawiya in 2016, Bengaluru failed to defend their I-League title under Roca despite making a flying start to the league. They finished a dismal fourth as Roca struggled to impose his possession-based philosophy on the team.
The team would often get caught out on the counter against teams which had pace and played direct football. But one can argue that Roca did not have all the pieces to his jigsaw back then. He also had to shift between a three-man and four-man defence frequently as his players struggled to adapt.
He did manage to secure continental qualification by winning the Federation Cup though, which once again was just a hastily organised cup tournament.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru progressed far in the 2017 AFC Cup as Roca masterminded several important wins, including the dismantling of DPR Korea's April 25 SC in Bengaluru in the Inter-Zonal semifinal. However, their bid to progress to the final of the AFC Cup again was halted by Tajikistan's FC Istiklol.
Then Bengaluru FC made their transition to the Indian Super League (ISL) and took everyone by surprise. Roca's tactical nous and game reading skills were widely appreciated as Bengaluru dominated the league stages, finishing a whopping eight points behind second-placed Chennaiyin FC.
He had players to his taste and disposition by this time and better quality playing fields also helped him mould the team as per his requirements. That is not to say Bengaluru only played posession football under him. They were also equally lethal on the counter and had a physical threat about them in setpieces, making them a well-rounded team.
But despite all that, when the crunch game which was the ISL final came, Bengaluru FC faltered. Chennaiyin FC haunted Albert Roca's team at the Kanteerava stadium once again and emerged triumphant as Roca's search for a league title ended without fruition.
The Super Cup triumph was mere consolation and a shiny piece of ornament for the cabinet. A league title was certainly missing for the second year running.
Roca's time at Bengaluru FC will certainly be remembered and deserves to be. But considering the fact that he inherited a team which had won two league titles in three years, Albert Roca would have had this particular regret as he called time on his Bengaluru FC career.
Certianly, if he was to come back to India, he will have something to aim for.