East Bengal are set to appoint 52-year-old Spanish coach Alejandro Menendez Garcia as the team’s head coach ahead of the 2018/19 I-League season.
Menendez has a vast experience of managing Spanish clubs like Celta Vigo, Racing Santander. His most notable stint was with Real Madrid’s ‘B’ side or Real Madrid Castilla from 2009-11. He has also managed Asian clubs like Thailand’s Buriram United and China’s Shaanxi Wuzhou.
Garcia’s appointment marks the beginning of a new era at the Red and Golds. The 52-year-old is set to be the most high profile coach in the history of the century-old club.
The Kolkata giants have been in news for the last couple of months since the arrival of new investors - Bengaluru-based business service providing company Quess Corp who picked up 70% of the stake.
Within a few weeks of Quess’ arrival, East Bengal roped in Costa Rican defender Johnny Acosta Zamora who played the World Cup 2018 in Russia for his country. The defender was a statement signing for the club.
They have also roped in Nigerian international striker Mohammed Gambo from Nigerian Premier League side Kano Pillars FC.
But Menendez’s appointment suggests that the club are on track to build a solid foundation which would bring success in the coming years.
During his tenure at Real Madrid Castilla, several promising youngsters turned into superstars like Alvaro Morata, Dani Carvajal, Marcos Alonso, Nacho and Denis Cheryshev. Interestingly, Bengaluru FC defender Juanan Gonzalez played under him during that period at Castilla.
It must be remembered that Menendez had replaced current Real Madrid and former Spain national team coach Julen Lopetegui at Real Madrid Castilla’s helm of affairs. Lopetegui used to manage the side from 2008-09.
During his time as Castilla’s head coach, Menendez had also worked as one of the assistants to then Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho for a season.
He has also the experience of managing top Asian clubs like Thai Premier League’s Buriram United. He was in charge of the club from 2013 to 2014 where he won a record number of five domestic competitions, the Thai Premier League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup, Kor Royal Cup, Toyota Premier Cup.
Menendez was also in charge of Buriram in the 2014 AFC Champions League. The had played against top clubs from Japan, South Korea and China and bowed out of the group stage after finishing third in their group.
The 52-year-old coach brings with him a vast experience of managing top quality players which will benefit the Indian players of East Bengal. His presence in the East Bengal dressing room will magnify the club’s stature further.
The club must make a long-term deal with Alejandro who can influence the building of the first team as well help in shaping the youth structure. The Spaniard has worked in Real Madrid’s youth system in the past and his experience will come handy and benefit East Bengal in the long term.
Menedez's arrival is a statement of intent and also showcases their desire to get into the Indian Super League (ISL) next season.