Since 2017, fans in general have been enthralled by the attacking style of football professed by former coach Sergio Lobera.
Juan Ferrando has replaced his compatriot as the head coach of FC Goa ahead of the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season and the Goan club is confident that they have made the right choice.
The club's Director of Football, Ravi Puskur, explained to Goal about the idea behind choosing Ferrando to lead them in the ISL and the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Champions League group stage for which they qualified for after topping the ISL 6 regular season.
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"When we began our recruitment process for the head coach, Juan’s name stood out as one of the names that we wanted to have a closer look at and speak to. His recent success in Greece (with Volos FC) and his upward trajectory as a coach was obviously appealing. Juan showed the traits of a modern coach who was not only clear in how he would like his team to play, but was also very receptive to new ideas. We’re confident that he will be able to get the team to continue to play a similar style of football to that we have been playing," Puskur elucidated.
"Additionally, as a club, we have always tried to work towards the seamless integration of the first team with our youth teams and we feel like Juan can help us bridge that gap. In our various discussions with Juan, it was evident that he wanted to have a part to play in the larger project and not only take the responsibilities of the first feam. He wanted to have a role to play in the development of the younger players," he added.
Ferrrando delved into coaching from 2009. But his first stint in the top flight of football was in 2012-13 when he was part of La Liga side Malaga's coaching staff. However, the highlight of his career came from 2017 to 2020, when the Spaniard took Volos FC from third division to the top tier of Greece.
There have been questions on why Goa opted to go with a young coach rather than someone experienced, especially since they were playing continental football this season. Puskur laid those concerns to rest, pointing out that Ferrando was the assistant coach of Moldova's Sheriff Tiraspol who reached the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round for the first time in their history during his tour of duty.
"I wouldn’t consider Juan an inexperienced coach. While he may be on the younger side, Juan has been coaching since the age of 18, and has worked in multiple countries across Europe.
He already has the experience of coaching teams for the best part of a decade and was already leading teams in the European continental club competitions six years ago. Casting aside his age, we were confident that Juan was ready to take on the task at hand and continue to build on what the club has achieved."
Key players like Ahmed Jahouh and Mandar Rao Dessai have opted to follow Lobera to Mumbai City FC. Now, the eyes will be on FC Goa's moves in the market and whether the coach will have a free hand in the recruitment of players.
"We have had multiple discussions already with Juan in terms of how we want to go about our recruitment. Over the years, we’ve built up the scouting and player identification capabilities internally as well. Even before Juan was signed on as a coach, we were ready with a list of probables that we felt would suit our style of football.
"In our initial discussions with Juan, he quite liked the names that were presented to him and has given the nod on a few profiles. The process of signing a player, whether Indian or foreign will be done in tandem with the coach. And Juan’s opinion on players will weigh heavily on the overall decision-making towards the recruitment," the club official commented.
Whether it was with Brazilian legend Zico (2014-2016) or Lobera for the last three (almost) seasons, FC Goa's managerial choices have generally been a success. Puskur feels that a clarity of thought as to what the club wants has played a huge role in this.
"I cannot speak for Zico as the current management was not involved in the process, but whenever we’ve hired for any technical position, we’ve always had clarity in terms of what we want to achieve with that appointment. When we changed coaches for the first time (Lobera), three years ago, the aim was to set a playing style and start laying a foundation for how we wanted our teams to play football. And that served as a large part of the criterion when narrowed down our options.
"This time, we wanted to bring in a coach who was not only able to consolidate that playing style, but also focused on player development across the board. And had an ability to create a team culture and set practices that would serve the club well beyond the lifetime of a coach at the club."
Puskur also explained why Ferrando stood out from the rest of the names who were considered for the job.
"In our discussions, there were a few other coaches who were impressive but we felt we had the greatest connect with Juan in terms of how we wanted to go about achieving this and therefore decided to offer him the chance to take on the role," Puskur concluded.