The 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League is a couple of weeks away but Manuel Marquez Roca is already gearing up for his new job as Hyderabad FC manager. He feels that mentality will be the key to a turnaround in the club's fortunes this season.
The newly appointed manager of Hyderabad FC recently discussed the struggles of starting the preparations late, coaching in a new country, his foreign signings and his goals for the 2020-21 ISL season.
In the last few days of August, former Bengaluru FC manager Albert Roca was lured away by FC Barcelona, leaving a manager-shaped hole at Hyderabad FC. The Nizams acted quickly and brought in Manuel Marquez Roca to take charge of the club for their second season in the ISL.
Talking about the challenge of arriving late, Manuel Marquez Roca said:
"It’s a big challenge for me to join Hyderabad FC as we are set to begin our season soon. The club has already been preparing and working on a lot of things over the last few months so that makes it a comparatively smoother process for me to settle in.
"Given that Hyderabad FC intends to follow the same philosophy which I’ve worked with over so many years, I believe there are common goals already present. Now it’s just about hitting the ground running and imparting those ideologies to the players."
Manuel Marquez Roca's experience in Spain and Croatia
Manuel Marquez Roca comes with a good managerial track record in the Spanish second division, La Liga and the Croatian top flight. He is now excited to explore a new footballing culture in India:
"All the different countries have their characteristics. When you move to a new country, you have to adapt to the place with the habits and traditions that they have over there. Football isn’t an exception here. I’ve been watching a lot of Indian Super League games; I’ve also spoken to Spanish players that were there and the sensation is that every year the Championship is more balanced. Indian players are better every season and there are a lot of young native players with a great future in the squad."
Asked about his new high-profile signings who come with bags of experience in La Liga and the Spanish second division, Manuel Marquez Roca denied to single out any player and hailed the squad as a group. He said:
"Joao and Lluis are great and experienced players but they are different from each other. Obviously, they are two important players for Hyderabad FC and will allow us to play with different systems, but I don’t like to speak only about two players. We’ll have a great season when we make all the players feel important in the team. Every player has their qualities but they know that the most important this is to stay in a strong group."
Manuel Marquez Roca addresses football without fans
Manuel Marquez Roca also hailed the importance of fans in the sport and said:
"Everyone knows that we are in an unusual situation, but football is an escape route for fans and we have to give them the best possible things. When we play, we have to forget about the pandemic and just enjoy the game. Football is happiness and we have to remember it."
Manuel Marquez Roca is expecting the absence of fans to be a challenge for his players and backroom staff. With no fans to back the players in losing situations or while defending narrow leads, he feels the mentality will be the key. He said:
"The planning of the technical staff is to try and make sure that the players are comfortable throughout the season and we have to know how every player is, in every moment. It will be very different for players, coaches and all the people who will be around the team. For me, the mentality will be one of the keys. If the team is prepared mentally, we'll have a good season for sure."
When asked how he will turn things around after the club finished a distant 10th in the league last season, Manuel Marquez Roca said:
"When you arrive at a new club you always wish for better things. I have to be prudent but we don’t renounce anything. The main goal is to arrive in the best condition possible to the first match of the league, but we have to try and improve in every training session. It’s a short competition and in every game I want to have a competitive team."Published 20 Sep 2020, 11:50 IST