ISL 2018-19: Did FC Goa coach Sergio Lobera deserve a contract extension?
Pep Guardiola’s glittering four-year reign at Camp Nou netted 14 titles in all, easily overtaking Johan Cruyff’s 11 trophies in eight seasons - one of the most successful periods ever in the history of the club.
It is not just the numbers, Guardiola made the club play the most attractive football the sport had seen in decades. There was almost unanimous praise for Guardiola’s brand of football, which made Barcelona the most popular football club in the world.
Everyone wanted to play like Guardiola’s Barcelona. The Barcelona philosophy, which is synonymous with success and beauty, has spread to every corner of the world and at every level of football.
Guardiola, a product of Barcelona’s philosophy, once compared the club to a church. “Johan Cruyff painted the chapel. The coaches who follow merely restore or improve it,” he said.
In fact, it was Cruyff, who sowed the 'idea of Barcelona' and his apostles have spread out everywhere, carrying on his work.
Sergio Lobera, for example, has built a career as a roving ambassador for Barcelona, working in Spain and Morocco before landing at FC Goa.
The Barca alumnus was given a two-year contract at FC Goa replacing the legendary Zico. The Spaniard wasted no time in imposing his philosophy that he imbibed during his time at the club.
Lobera, in his first season in charge, failed to qualify for the final, after losing out to eventual winners Chennaiyin FC. Despite the semi-final heartbreak, his team won plaudits for their fearless and exciting brand of football.
Watching this team play at its peak was an awe-inspiring experience for many fans. It was ISL’s own version of Barcelona.
The fluidity of the team made them the most feared side in ISL last season. They scored the most numbers of goals (42 goals at a rate of 2.33 goals per match), made the most number of passes( 10798). In short, Sergio Lobera's men took it to another level.
In the current campaign, FC Goa has started where they left off last season. Sergio Lobera's team has scored an incredible 22 goals in just eight games at an impressive rate of 2.75 per game. Their overall passing stats is also significantly superior to other clubs in comparison. Goa have averaged 505 completed passes per game so far, illustrating not only quantity but also the quality of their dominance.
The FC Goa bosses were sufficiently impressed and handed Lobera a one-year contract extension that will see him remain in the club until June 2020.
So, did Sergio Lobero deserve a contract extension?
Yes. Resoundingly, yes.
The Spaniard has been a breath of fresh air to the league. Much of the football FC Goa has served up under Lobera, has been breathtaking. Unifying a club with a brand of entertaining football that your fans can be proud of is indicative that club has made progress and is moving in the right direction.
When you have someone of Lobera’s quality, it makes perfect sense to secure that person for the long term. Not doing so would be irresponsible. With a longer contract, Lobera can oversee the entire football infrastructure at the club, modernize its youth development and help build a revered footballing brand.
And lastly, the owners were well aware that attractive jobs would become available soon. It was better to tie him down now with a longer contract than to see him fly off to another footballing destination. A new contract demonstrates the club’s unshakeable belief in the coach and determination to stand by him over the forthcoming seasons.
The challenge for FC Goa and Lobera is to take the next step and turn their progress into silverware because that is ultimately, how managers are judged. Lobera has to find a happy medium between style and steel.