Albert Roca leaves lasting impact at Bengaluru FC

Spaniard Albert Roca's stint with Bengaluru FC has come to and but he is leaving on a high note...

Bengaluru FC needed someone to take up the mantle when Ashley Westwood parted ways with the club in 2016. When Albert Roca took charge in the summer of 2016, he was at a highly successful club that was striving for more. He overcame the challenges and managed to instil a sense of identity to the Blues.

The transition from the English coach's methods to Spaniard and former Barcelona coach Albert Roca's footballing philosophy was, in effect, smooth. And he managed to achieve the historic feat of taking the club to the final of the 2016 AFC Cup in his first ever season, beating defending champions en route. 

The Blues narrowly missed out and were defeated 1-0 by Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya in the final. But it was the first major indication that the Spanish coach was doing the right things.

They weren't successful in the I-League in 2017 under Roca and that was unusual for the club who were defending champions going into the season and had already won two two league titles since its inception in 2013.

Bengaluru FC Albert Roca

A fourth-place finish in I-League was soon forgiven when Bengaluru beat Mohun Bagan at the end of Roca's first season to clinch the Federation Cup title. And as a result, the Blues were also back in the Asian competition.

Then came the switch to Indian Super League (ISL) in the summer of 2017. The ISL entry demanded the club to disband the whole squad and Roca was set a challenging task to build a squad from the scratch, one that could compete on all fronts. And that's exactly what he managed to do.

By retaining Udanta Singh and Sunil Chhetri and further getting their foreign players to commit their future to the club, Bengaluru had developed a core to build their team around. 

In came tall midfielder Erik Paartalu from Australia and prolific forward Miku from Venezuela. The club also managed to agree to a deal with Stabæk for the transfer of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. 

With Miku leading the line, Chhetri and Udanta in support, and another summer Spanish recruit Dimas Delgado acting as the playmaker in midfield, Roca unleashed Bengaluru FC on the 2017-18 ISL.

They were solid at the back and lethal up front. To top that, they had a midfield capable of holding on to the ball. The wingbacks flew past the wingers on the overlap and the prolific duo of Chhetri and Miku would so easily find space in the attacking third and score goals for fun. 

Bengaluru FC Albert Roca

Roca's side conceded just 64 goals in 73 games as compared to 103 from 89 matches under Westwood. The Spanish coach stressed the importance of keeping the ball and his team followed his orders. And whenever Bengaluru FC played, they would be the more dominant side on the pitch. This was what Roca, a certain coach who also had his roots at FC Barcelona, craved. 

Despite their dominance and their journey to cement a top-of-the-table league finish, Bengaluru lost to Chennaiyin FC in the final of the ISL. 

Just like the previous year, Roca set aside the league heartbreak and oversaw his side's stunning Super Cup victory. And to end the season on a high note, Bengaluru qualified for the inter-zone playoff semi-final as group winners in 2018 AFC Cup. Bengaluru's AFC Cup campaign this season is Albert Roca's brainchild as the manager used the full strength of his squad to make it sound like fixture congestion is a made-up word. 

Bengaluru FC Albert Roca

All his on-field success was backed up by a calm and positive demeanour outside the field as well and that makes the choice of his replacement remarkably difficult and an incredibly important one. Bengaluru's dominance in the domestic league and their magical cup round will be handed over to a new head coach in a few months' time but Albert Roca's legacy will never be forgotten by the Blues.