“Bengaluru FC is home, and I’m still looking to build on its foundations”

Saturday Night At The Fatorda Marked A Milestone Moment For Carles Cuadrat, Who Took Charge Of The Blues For A 50th Game In All Competitions. We Sat Down With The Boss, Who Spoke About His Time At The Club, The BFC Project, And More…

In taking charge of the Blues against Hyderabad FC in what is his third season as Bengaluru FC Head Coach, Carles Cuadrat marked a half-century of games on the touchline as the Blues’ boss. With an Indian Super League title in the bag, Cuadrat says he is constantly looking for avenues to improve on the club’s strong foundations and says that for him, BFC is home.

“When a place makes me feel good, I like to commit my time there. I spent large portions of my career in football at FC Barcelona (as a player and part of the technical staff across Barcelona teams) and Gavà CF in different roles. For me, Bengaluru FC is home and the project is something I hold close. To reach this milestone is nice, but it’s even more important that we’re constantly looking to build on the foundations.”

While Cuadrat’s independent charge of the Blues may have begun with the 2018-19 season, his association with the club extends to five years when he played an able assistant to former coach Albert Roca for two seasons. When the opportunity arose to take over the mantle from Roca and steer the ship, Cuadrat had many reasons to feel right about it. “I had worked closely with the staff and players at this club and the opportunity to further that seemed good. Boys like Sunil, Udanta, Khabra and Gurpreet – I had worked closely with them right from the beginning, and I felt encouraged to build on that. Even some of the foreign players like Juanan, Erik and Dimas have been here for a while now, and we have something solid as a base.”

During his time at the club, the Blues have amassed several records. During the 2018-19 Indian Super League, Bengaluru FC not only secured the coveted Indian Super League trophy that they had narrowly missed out on the previous year, but Bengaluru FC were also 11 matches unbeaten, the longest streak of any ISL club. This period also included a six-game winning streak, also a League record.

In keeping 11 clean sheets last season, the Blues also logged another record under Cuadrat’s reign, becoming the team with the highest clean sheets in a single ISL season. Since making their entry to the League in 2017, the Blues remains the only team to make the playoffs in every season of its existence.

And the numbers don’t stop there. Cuadrat tops the historical list of coaches with the highest points per game (1.74) and is in elite company, as one of only seven coaches to exceed 40 games in charge in the Indian Super League. At the turn of the year, Carles is poised to be one of only four coaches with over 50 games in the League (along with Sergio Lobera, Antonio Habas and Steve Coppell). The Blues have enjoyed phenomenal success since the club’s inception in 2013, and Cuadrat believes his squad is capable of extending that period.

“All the best teams in history have successful journeys and Bengaluru FC has provided that to Indian football, winning six trophies in seven seasons. The core of the current group of players has won the Indian Super League, Federation Cup and Super Cup final, in addition to having reached other finals like the AFC Cup or the first Indian Super League that we played. We are taking that journey ahead, and that means developing our younger players by combining them with the core.”

As many as 12 Bengaluru FC youngsters have made their debuts for the first team since Cuadrat took over the reins, and the boss is specific about the importance given to youth development. The club has always looked to play its part in painting the bigger picture and Cuadrat has had an important role to play on that front too. It was under his tenure that Nishu Kumar and Rahul Bheke got national team call-ups and have since been regulars for India.

“When we arrived in India we spoke about wanting to help develop football in the country, and that hasn’t changed. Whenever a Bengaluru player makes the national team, it validates our intent. If he keeps working the way he does, Suresh [Wangjam] could be knocking on the doors of the national team very soon.”

With the Blues having ended a season without silverware for the first time since their inception in 2013-14, Cuadrat’s side is hungry to make amends in the Indian Super League this campaign. Despite not being in the stands, Cuadrat has maintained that the supporters have and will continue to play a major part for the Spaniard personally, and in the fortunes of his team on the field. Not surprisingly, his love affair with Kanteerava has made his team the longest-unbeaten home team in ISL history. In Goa for this entirety of the current season, the challenge will be to qualify for the playoff again and fight for the title as his side have been in every season.