I-League 2018-19: Manuel Retamero - Good opportunity to stamp my style on Indian football

The Spanish coach believes that the foundation he laid at Aizawl FC led to their title triumph...

Manuel Retamero Fraile returned to India after two and half years to join NEROCA FC as their head coach earlier this season.

The Spaniard’s first coaching stint in India back in the 2015/16 season ended on a disappointing note as he had to leave Aizawl FC after just two months.

He started off well at the North East Indian club by winning the Mizoram Premier League (MPL) but his journey in I-League was not a smooth one. The Valladolid-born coach was in charge of the club in just the first six matches where the club won only once.

He is back in Indian football to make a difference with last season's I-League runners up NEROCA.

In a chat with Goal, Manuel Retamero revealed the reason for his return to India and how his second stint in the country has gone so far.

Q: What made you come back to India?

A: I love my work and I wanted to come back to India to try and improve the football again. I know I have done a good job before because many journalists, players, fans had told me. The fans in Aizawl still love me. When I had an opportunity to come back, why not? Good opportunity to stamp my style and work over here again. We are having a good time but it is difficult because everyone wants to see success very quickly but I am happy and proud of the way things are going. 

Manuel Retamero

Q: Notable change in Indian football since 2016?

A: To be honest, I would like to see more than I what I am seeing now. I was watching the ISL game between ATK and Jamshedpur, the stadium was almost empty. We must find the solution to make football proper. This is the fifth year of the ISL, I know that they are trying, but I would really like to see more. I love India, India has good footballers and I hope they can do well. I also want the Indian national football team develops and show the world they can do it.

Q: Standard of Indian players improved since 2016?

A: Yes, they have improved. I have heard that a lot of academies have opened up operated by big teams around the world and even by big teams in India. The most important point India has is that you have kept the football on the street. That is awesome because the likes of Messi, Cristiano, Pele, Maradona learned their skills through street football. That is their magical point. In Spain, we don't play anymore on the streets. We used to play before when I was a kid. But, the new generation has very good facilities and have forgotten to play on the streets.

I can talk more about the North-East because I know more. North-East India has a lot of good footballers. The region has very good potential to produce many good footballers. 

Q: Experience with NEROCA FC so far?

A: The most important is to improve and not just work for one season. One has to be patient and improve as a club. For example, I laid the foundation at Aizawl FC and next season they won the championship. On the flip side, Minerva won last season and now they are having a bad time. Even the bigger clubs like Mohun Bagan and East Bengal were very good teams when I first came to India but now are struggling a bit. Bengaluru were the best but now they play in the ISL, they along with FC Goa for me in the ISL are the best teams.

Manuel Retamero

Most important thing is to keep the balance. I am happy how the East Bengal management have recognised Alejandro Menendez's good work and are thinking to extend his contract. It is important to give the power to the coach. Like this, you can see a gradual success and you can build a very good team. They are a very big club with a lot of money and very big investors. Even for the coach, it gives him motivation to work properly, not just one season. Success will come with time.

Q: Do you want to continue with NEROCA?

A: Let's see, why not. Continuity of your work is very important. It's like building a house if you do not like it then destroy and build again. It's like you are wasting your money, your time and at the end, you do not build anything. When I was in Aizawl, Mohun Bagan were mighty, they had a very good team but they could not continue that particular work. I do not know where, but I would like to have a continual job, maybe here, if it is another club I will continue to do my job. Also, timing is very important. East Bengal are doing it now already. This means they can be focused and have ample time to think about next season properly; that is a very good step from the East Bengal management.