Bengaluru FC are set to tread the competitive waters of the fifth season of the Indian Super League (ISL) with a new skipper at the helm. However, he is no stranger to the crew nor the boat. Carles Cuadrat has been the assistant coach of the Blues since 2016 when he came on board alongside Albert Roca.
But after Roca's exit at the end of last season, Bengaluru FC have swiftly turned to Cuadrat to take over the team. He feels that the club have made a sensible choice, given how he will be continuing Roca's philosophy.
The 49-year-old spoke about how he came to be Bengaluru FC's manager in a chat with Goal where he praised the support offered by the team management. "Yeah, we had been talking about the possibility to start me as the coach for the club. And from the first moment that they proposed that for me, they were really encouraging me to do it. They have been supporting me," he said.
Cuadrat went on to highlight the vision of the Bengaluru FC management, praising the vision and planning of the team.
"I think that the way the club is doing the things, they are always thinking about the projects, you know? The management is always there with the plan and I think it made sense for them to keep the work they were doing with Albert and put it in my hands because in the end, it’s the same philosophy.
"Albert (Roca) was not ready to start the season with us. So they gave me all the help to make it possible with me. So I think that they really are in the right line and supporting all the plans that they have."
The former Galatasaray assistant will be solely in charge of a club for the first time in his career but he has, in his own words, settled in really well. Despite an AFC Cup exit at the hands of Altyn Asyr, Cuadrat exuded a confident demeanour.
"The real thing is that the club, the boys, the players are making it really easy for me (first job as manager). You know how in football there is a lot of things happening. But when you feel that you are a part of the club and that you are changing a lot of things and the machine is working at the same level, then you feel that nothing is changing a lot," he stated philosophically.
"So I’m happy with the way we are working day after day. Of course, the results in the AFC Cup were not very good for us. We had an opponent who had good quality and showed that they were superior in these two particular games. But we were just at the beginning of the season and are improving day by day. I hope that we can do a good job this season."
However, Cuadrat does not believe that a lack of AFC Cup commitments will hand Bengaluru FC an advantage in the race to the ISL play-offs. Bengaluru had a packed schedule in February last year but Roca managed to negotiate the fixtures well. Regardless of continental developments, his team will be eager for success, feels Cuadrat.
"I don’t think that will have any impact. I mean, football clubs want to compete, want to be playing all the time and there was no problem last season. Now we will be missing a few games that we would like to play (AFC Cup).
"We want to play next year in this competition (AFC Cup) again. But you see how difficult it is for teams to get to the playoffs. All the teams want to arrive to the playoffs but in the end it’s just four teams that will be arriving.
Cuadrat also asserted that the Blues will be fighting for the ultimate prize in the ISL.
"Our target at the start of the season is to try to arrive to the playoffs and then we will see because to become champions at the end, it’s just a question of three games, the semi-finals and the final. Like last season, we had a nice campaign but because of one game, we couldn’t get the championship. We will be fighting for the league."
Before he signed off, Cuadrat had a message for the fans, praising their contribution in home games.
"As we always said, they are very important in the way we are doing things.
"We could see in the last game at home. At one moment we were losing the game and then the support from the fans helped us get from one result that was very bad for us to almost getting a draw. I just want to tell them to keep encouraging us at that level as they for sure, have scored a lot of goals for us."