There was a tinge of sadness at the end of last season after Spanish coach Albert Roca parted ways with the club. The Spanish coach’s two-year tenure was fairly successful, with the highlight being the historic feat of taking the club to the final of the 2016 AFC Cup in his first ever season.
The Blues narrowly missed out when they were defeated 1-0 by Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya in the final. Despite falling short at the final hurdle, the Blues left with their heads held high. It was a sign that the club was moving in the direction under the Spaniard. In his second season in charge, Bengaluru FC decided to enter the Indian Super League as the league's new entrant. Roca’s men adapted to the new league with ease finishing runners-up in the league after losing the final to Chennaiyin FC.
Perhaps, Roca’s biggest legacy would be the La Masia philosophy that he instilled at the club. It was not like Bengaluru played like Barcelona but they learned how to keep possession of the ball more, control the tempo of the game and get the desired results.The Spaniard had a profound effect on Bengaluru’s playing style and to continue with the same philosophy, the management swiftly turned to Roca’s assistant, Carles Cuadrat to take over the team.
After his appointment, Cuadrat shed light on the reason behind his elevation by the Bengaluru FC management,
"I think that the way the club is doing the things, they are always thinking about the projects, you know? The management is always there with the plan and I think it made sense for them to keep the work they were doing with Albert and put it in my hands because in the end, it’s the same philosophy.”
While the core of Bengaluru's roster remains intact from last year, the Blues have added few new faces. The challenge for any football club is to raise the standards, keep building and improving their squad every year.
That’s where they have fallen short.
Bengaluru may have collected four points from their two matches, but there are some clear issues within Cuadrat’s squad that he needs to try and address. One of those is the lack of creativity from the midfield with Erik Paartalu and Harmanjot Singh Khabra’s partnership failing to impress fans in the opening few games of the season. Another worry is the sterile performances of their new recruit Xisco Hernandez. The former Mallorca midfielder was brought in to take over the creative duties from Edu Garcia but has so far failed to impress in the early weeks of the 2018-19 season.
The Blues are among the favorites for the title this year but they can truly transform themselves into sure title contenders if they can sign a top playmaker, a number 10 that is proven at this level – and Flamengo's Thiago Santos is the answer.
The Brazilian-born creator plays more of an advanced role and can feed in players like Miku and Sunil Chettri to reign terror on opposing defenses.
Thiago played for Mumbai City FC last season, scored five goals and supplied one assist in all competitions for Mumbai last term. Moreover, Xisco’s performances are starting to become a serious issue among fans and many feel that he lacks the attributes of a proven Number 10. Thiago can come in and replace the former Mallorca midfielder straight away. Bengaluru's biggest problem this season is- it lacks creativity and imagination and that where Thiago’s natural flair, natural vision, and spatial awareness will come in handy in tight games.