Determined to improve on past performances, Hyderabad FC’s Marquez looks to mastermind a top-four finish

Tactical brilliance, an aura of calmness and witty post-match comments, the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) has seen the many facets of Manolo Márquez in the one season he has spent in Indian football.

The 53-year-old who has spent a majority of his managerial career in Spain joined Hyderabad FC ahead of the 2020-21 season, and he masterminded a brilliant revival in his debut season after the club had an underwhelming 2019-20 season.

Hyderabad FC were battling for a top-four spot till the final matchday but came up short against a spirited FC Goa team and had to settle for fifth place. There are great expectations from the Nizams and Márquez, ahead of the upcoming season, as they will look to better their performance from the previous campaign.

Born in Barcelona, Márquez was a defender in his playing days and represented several clubs like Santfeliuenc FC, CF Montañesa, FC Martinenc, and Penya Barcelonista Anguera, before retiring at the age of 28.

PB Anguera in the Spanish lower leagues is where Márquez commenced his coaching career. He took up the managerial role at Spanish side AE Prat in 2003, with whom he spent three years, and a further two years from 2007 to 2009. An appointment at CF Badalona in the Segunda Division B followed, where he was in charge for over 80 games.

After a spell with the RCD Espanyol reserve team in the early 2010s, he was appointed the head coach of the reserve side of UD Las Palmas in 2016. He helped the team gain promotion to the third tier of Spanish football in his first season. His performance with the reserves earned him plaudits, and he was handed the reins of the UD Las Palmas first team, which was then competing in La Liga.

His stay in the top tier was short-lived as he resigned after six games in charge. His last assignment before exploring Indian shores was in 2018 when he was in charge of the Croatian top division side NK Istra.

Although the Nizams were unfortunate to miss out on a semi-final berth, the style of football employed by Márquez and his emphasis on providing playing time to the youngsters at Hyderabad FC was extremely exciting. He ensured that his side was comfortable in possession and in playing out from the back, too, as he looked to field players who looked confident with the ball at their feet.

Young guns Akash Mishra and Asish Rai were revelations in the full-back positions, posing a threat going forward, while also being sturdy in defence. The rise of Chinglensana Singh as a ball-playing center-back was a direct result of the gaffer’s tactical preferences. Liston Colaco, Mohammad Yasir, and Hitesh Sharma were regular features in his lineup, too.

Márquez registered a win percentage of 30% in his first season in India, winning 6 out of the 20 games, but to his credit, he only oversaw three defeats last season, which was the joint lowest in the league. The Nizams scored 27 goals while conceding 19 in the seventh edition of the Hero ISL.

“Sometimes the second year is more difficult than the first. This season (2020-21), we are a surprise to the league but next season(2021-22), I am sure will not be the same. There will be more pressure, but if we work hard, and strive to improve like we did in this season, we can surely have a good season, next year as well,” the Spaniard was seen remarking in the latter half of last season, as he acknowledged the competitive nature of the league, while also being wary of complacency. The Hero ISL will continue to witness Márquez’s system in the near future too, as he has committed to Hyderabad FC until the end of the 2022-23 season.

With a side full of talented players and past Hero ISL winners, Hyderabad FC are all set to kick off their campaign against Chennaiyin FC on 23rd November 2021.

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