Head coach José Manuel Díaz brings Real Madrid's ethos to SC East Bengal
Kolkata giants SC East Bengal have signed former Real Madrid reserve team manager José Manuel Díaz Fernández as their head coach ahead of the Hero Indian Super League 2021-22 season.
The Red and Gold Brigade had a rocky debut in the ISL, which included a sluggish start, a seven match unbeaten run and an absolute goal fest in the last match of the season.
Their fans would hope that the newly-appointed coach can weave his magic and create an instant impact at the club. The historic club would have their sights set on the League Winners’ Shield and the Indian Super League trophies to their already stacked trophy cabinet.
The Spaniard got first taste of coaching at Real Madrid’s youth (U-19) side back in 2002. He oversaw the development of players like Marcos Alonso and Juan Mata in his 5 year tenure as a youth coach.
His next endeavour came with Spanish fourth division side CDA Navalcarnero in 2008. He spent a season there, before being recalled to Los Blancos. But this time as the head coach of their reserve team, Real Madrid C.
After almost a four-year-long spell with Real Madrid C, Manuel Díaz was given the responsibility to lead Real Madrid Castilla in 2013. He was let go after the season ended, owing to his side suffering relegation from the Segunda División.
He was snapped up by SD Ponferradina of the Spanish second division shortly after his stint at Real Madrid Castilla. He was at the helm of affairs at the club for a couple of seasons and guided them to a 7th place finish in his first season. During his time at the club, he worked with current Chelsea FC goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga.
He made a return to Los Blancos in 2018, when he was named the head coach of Real Madrid Castilla for the second time, as the outgoing Castilla head coach Santiago Solari was tasked with replacing Julen Lopetegui in the senior team. He had a fairly successful season this time around as he won 14 of his 30 games in charge, and narrowly missed out on promotion to the second tier.
Hercules CF in the lower leagues of Spain was Díaz’s most recent assignment at the start of 2021, before embarking on the journey east to the Indian subcontinent where he shall lead the Red and Gold brigade in the upcoming Hero ISL season.
Looking back at his time at Hercules CF and Real Madrid Castilla, the gaffer is inclined towards lining up in a 4-4-2 or a 4-2-3-1 formation.
However, as mentioned in a press conference convened by SC East Bengal, Manuel Díaz will be looking to craft a plan which helps his team adapt to different situations and different oppositions. The young talents at SC East Bengal stand a chance to develop a lot this season, since they’ll be under the tutelage of one of the premier youth coaches in Europe.
The 53-year-old tactician brings a wealth of experience to the club, and in a career that has spanned over two decades and over 300 games. He has an overall win rate of 41.77 percent. Díaz had a fruitful second stint with Real Madrid Castilla as he registered a 47% win ratio in the 2018-19 season. His side scored 49 goals and conceded 40 in the 2018-19 season, while in the 2020-21 season, Hercules CF were able to score 17 goals and let in 15 goals in the 13 games he was in-charge.
He quipped, “In Madrid, we say 'Winning is in our DNA'. We love the pressure and expectation that comes with coaching a big club.” While discussing his expectations from the season that lies ahead, he said, “Time is short and there is a long and difficult road ahead, but we will do our best to deliver good performances for all SC East Bengal fans.”
The Spaniard came across as confident to tackle the obstacles and pressure that comes with being in charge of a glorious club such as SC East Bengal.