When Bengaluru FC parted ways with Ashley Westwood, they decided to opt for a Spanish coach in Albert Roca in order to change the style of their game and also help iron out minor blips. The club management delved into the transfer market and brought in some big names such as Sandesh Jhingan, Mandar Rao Dessai and so on in order to help Roca build a competitive team.
It was the most expensive team in the I-League that season. However, the club’s performances didn’t match their expectations as they finished a lowly fourth on the table. They won the Federation Cup which was the saving grace as Roca just about survived from getting the sack.
In the AFC Cup, Bengaluru FC progressed to the final, winning two knockout ties under Roca. However, they stumbled at the final hurdle.
Bengaluru continued their progress as they dominated the league stages and also dismantled FC Pune City in the play-offs to make it into the final. Once again, the club faltered as they suffered a 3-2 defeat on home soil.
In the Super Cup, a tournament which none of the Indian Super League (ISL) sides took seriously thanks to a haphazard manner in which it was planned, Bengaluru FC won their second Cup title under Roca but didn’t face a single ISL team in their four matches.
As Roca and Bengaluru went separate ways, the club management’s decision to hand over the reins to Carles Cuadrat must be applauded in hindsight.
Bengaluru FC’s budget was cut down from what they spent last season and Cuadrat was handed the responsibility to guide the team to go one better than Roca. They did lose some key players like Edu Garcia whom they could not replace adequately.
The 50-year-old, most importantly, wasn’t obsessed with the possession-based system and was rather realistic in his approach. There were several games in the season where he was without the talisman Miku but he ensured that the results never went south. While critics might brand them as lucky, Cuadrat has taken Bengaluru FC over the line to win the ISL.
“It's been more progressive than what we learnt under Roca and he did not win the league and Carles did, that is the difference,” said Sunil Chhetri in the aftermath of the triumph.
Cuadrat has shown tremendous maturity where Roca struggled as the latter continued with his possession-based passing style which didn’t help the club win the league in two seasons.
Cuadrat’s team have shown the ability to grind out results and have displayed great resilience as he relied on team-work more than mere individual brilliance as was the case last season.
The former El Salvador assistant coach has etched his name in history with a fantastic and deserved victory in the final of the ISL to make it Bengaluru FC’s third league, with the first two coming under Westwood.