Image Courtesy: FC Goa

Manolo Marquez, the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) winning head coach at Hyderabad FC will embark on a new journey in Indian football as he became the new head coach of FC Goa on Friday. 

The Spaniard completely transformed the Yellow and Blacks after he arrived in 2019, taking them from a bottom-placed finish in 2018-19 to the Hero ISL trophy in 2021-22. 

The 54-year-old turned Hyderabad FC into a assertive possession-based football team that didn’t just score a lot of goals but also knew how to keep the back door shut and grind out results when necessary. 

Since he arrived in Indian football, only ATK Mohun Bagan managed to pick up more points in the league than Hyderabad FC. 

Unlike Hyderabad FC did when he took over, FC Goa have a track record of excellence and consistency in Hero ISL. No team in the Hero ISL has played more games and have scored more goals than the Gaurs. The only thing missing for men in orange is the Hero ISL trophy. 

FC Goa have referred to Marquez as the missing piece in their jigsaw in their announcement video and the general feeling around the Hero ISL is that the 54-year-old has all it takes to end FC Goa’s drought. 

So as Marquez begins work on the Goan shores, let’s take a look at what his arrival at FC Goa can mean to the club.

Winning mentality

Marquez’s Hyderabad FC were likened to a ruthless machine on several occasions during his tenure thanks to their ability to dig deep and eke out results even on days when they were not at their best. 

In the Hero ISL 2021-22 final, the Yellow and Blacks who were trailing the Kerala Blasters FC, scored in the dying minutes to force the match into extra time before winning it on penalties. There were several other games where Marquez’s side found the necessary quality and killer instinct to win games they didn’t dominate, a quality necessary for champions. 

FC Goa, especially in the last two seasons have played some delightful football but have lacked the final punch to take them over the line in games. Marquez will add that ruthless streak to the Gaurs, an element or the lack of it which has kept FC Goa away from the Hero ISL trophy. 

Imagine FC Goa playing their typical intricate football, scoring all those goals and yet having the killer instinct when needed the most. It would be a scary proposition. 

Grooming Goan talents

Another hallmark of Marquez’s Hyderabad FC reign was his ability to groom and improve young players. The likes of Liston Colaco, Asish Rai, Akash Mishra, Mohammad Yasir, Chinglensana Singh and Hitesh Sharma have established themselves as elite players under the Spaniard and have made their presence felt at the national team level. 

FC Goa too have a reputation for giving young players the platform to shine and having Marquez at the helm will only provide impetus to FC Goa’s youth movement that can see the best of Goan talents rule the Indian football stage again. 

Supported by a strong youth structure, Marquez has an opportunity to blood some youngsters not just for FC Goa but also for the Indian national team. 

Adding defensive solidity

FC Goa have always been a flamboyant outfit ever since the Zico days but haven’t always been able to put a lid on the goals at the other end. The Gaurs have kept just 39 clean sheets in 170 Hero ISL matches which accounts for one every four games.

Over his three-year reign, Marquez turned Hyderabad FC into a solid defensive unit. Since he arrived in Hero ISL, no team has conceded fewer goals than Hyderabad FC who kept 23 clean sheets during that three-season period. 

The Spaniard will look to have a similar impact at FC Goa who would welcome a team that can keep the back door shut more often than not. 

Ultimately, attacks win you games and defences win you titles. Marquez’s FC Goa will hope to do just that.