Manolo Marquez at Hyderabad FC: A journey of growth, grace and glory
The Manolo Marquez era at Hyderabad FC has come to an end following his announcement to step down from the managerial role after three incredible seasons with the club.
The Yellow and Black barely put a foot wrong since the appointment of the Spaniard, back in August 2020. From being at the bottom of the table to reaching the playoffs and eventually lifting the coveted Hero Indian Super League (ISL) trophy, the Hyderabad-based club achieved their ambition under the stewardship of Marquez.
His three-year spell at Hyderabad FC will be etched in the hearts of every fan, with Marquez taking the club among the best Indian clubs with some of the most iconic results in the history of the club. His attacking brand of football, innovative tactics, and knack for developing young talent earned him extensive recognition and admiration across the country.
Now, with Marquez's departure marking the end of an era for Hyderabad FC, we take a look back at some of his best moments with the club.
First Hero ISL victory (23/11/2020)
All eyes were on how the new manager, Manolo Marquez, would cope in a new country, especially when the league is being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite these challenges, Marquez's side ensured a positive start to the Hero ISL 2020-21 campaign by recording a 1-0 victory over Odisha FC. The Spaniard deployed his favoured 4-2-3-1 setup with Aridane Santana as the lone striker, and Santana scored the opening goal of the season from the spot, which sealed the victory for Hyderabad FC.
Although Odisha FC was not the strongest opposition, it was still an important fixture for Hyderabad FC to kickstart a new era under a new manager.
Two-Year Contract Extension
The 2020-21 season was Marquez’s first full season at Hyderabad FC. Expectations weren't particularly high from the Spaniard as he had to deal with the after-effects of a bad previous season, where they finished at the bottom of the table.
However, his coaching efficiency became evident through the team's gameplay, leading to a mid-season offer of a two-year contract extension, which Marquez signed on February 10, 2021, tying him to the club until the end of the 2022-23 season.
At the time of the extension announcement, Hyderabad FC were in fourth place on the league table, having amassed 23 points from 16 games.
Statement win against Kerala Blasters FC (16/02/2021)
“Victory is Sweet, But Revenge is Sweeter!”
In an earlier match that season, Hyderabad FC suffered a 2-0 defeat to Kerala Blasters FC with Abdul Hakku and Jordan Murray scoring for the Tuskers. However, after four consecutive draws, Marquez's side bounced back in the reverse fixture with a resounding 4-0 victory over Kerala Blasters FC, seeking revenge.
Hyderabad FC came out firing on all cylinders in the second half after the game was tied at half-time. Fran Sandaza scored two goals, while Santana and Joao Victor added one each to complete a dominant performance by the Yellow and Black at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Goa.
Climbing up the ranks from the bottom!
Marquez took on the challenge and approached it with confidence, putting his faith in young Indian players. He revolutionized the entire squad with his magic touch, taking the team from last place to one of the best in the league.
The head coach also led Hyderabad FC on an impressive 12-game unbeaten streak to finish his first season in India. This remarkable turnaround saw the Yellow and Black finish 5th on the Hero ISL points table, narrowly missing out on the playoffs after a goalless draw against FC Goa in the final game.
Hyderabad FC's defensive record was particularly impressive, with only three defeats and 19 goals conceded throughout the season.
Record-setting victory against Odisha FC (28/12/2021)
What was even more impressive about Marquez's tenure was the offensive prowess displayed by Hyderabad FC in his second season. The Yellow and Black secured their most emphatic victory in club history in December 2021, putting six goals past the Juggernauts.
They were up 2-1 at half-time with own-goals scored at each end, before Bartholomew Ogbeche put HFC ahead.
Marquez's side geared up in the second half, running riot against the Bhubaneswar-based club. Edu Garcia, Ogbeche, Javier Siverio, and Victor all found the back of the net for Hyderabad FC.
Securing playoff berth for the first time (23/02/2022)
Excitement was high as Hyderabad FC continued to improve under the guidance of the Spanish coach. After narrowly missing out on the playoffs in the previous season, Hyderabad FC secured their place in the playoffs with a 2-1 victory over Kerala Blasters on February 23, 2021. This win, which was their 10th of the Hero ISL, saw Ogbeche and Siverio scoring for Marquez's side.
League double over Mumbai City FC (05/03/2022)
Days after securing a spot in the Hero ISL playoffs, Hyderabad FC reached another high when they completed a league double over then defending champions, Mumbai City FC. Goals from Rohit Danu and Joel Chianese ensured that the Yellow and Black beat Mumbai City FC twice in the same season. Mourtada Fall halved the deficit for the Islanders but that was not enough to stop Hyderabad FC, who were flying on their momentum at that time.
In the reverse fixture that season, Marquez’s side came back from a goal down to register a 3-1 win over Des Buckingham’s side. Victor, Ogbeche, and Danu found the back of the net for HFC while Ahmed Jahouh scored for Mumbai City FC.
Highest finish in the League
Hyderabad FC achieved their highest finish in the league during the 2021-22 season, finishing second on the Hero ISL points table.
They were extremely close to winning the Hero League Winners’ Shield. The Yellow and Black led the league table for most of the season, but fell five points short to Jamshedpur FC.
In the crucial match between the two teams, Hyderabad FC had to play without several key players due to positive coronavirus cases, and Jamshedpur FC capitalized on this to eventually finish at the top of the points table.
Hyderabad FC 3-1 ATK Mohun Bagan (12/03/2022)
Marquez’s side continued their momentum in the playoffs by securing a comprehensive 3-1 win over ATK Mohun Bagan in the first leg of the semi-final.
Roy Krishna put the away team ahead, but Hyderabad FC took control of the game. Ogbeche scored the all-important equalizer on the cusp of half-time before Mohammad Yasir and Siverio extended the lead in the second half.
Despite losing 1-0 in the second leg of the semi-final, Hyderabad FC made it to the final of the Hero ISL for the first time in history, with an aggregate score of 3-2.
Hero ISL champions (20/03/2022)
This was the all-time highest point in Hyderabad FC's club history to date. After narrowly missing out on the League Winners’ Shield, the Yellow and Black finally got their hands on the first-ever national-level trophy.
Under the leadership of Marquez, Hyderabad FC created history by beating Kerala Blasters on penalties to lift the Hero Indian Super League title in March 2022.
Manolo Marquez’s side won the penalty shootout 3-1 after the game ended 1-1 at the end of regulation time. Sahil Tavora (88’) scored the all-important equalizer late in regular time to cancel out Rahul KP’s 66th-minute opener on a thrilling night at the PJN Stadium in Goa.
Hyderabad FC keeper Laxmikant Kattimani put on a heroic performance in the penalty shoot-out after making a silly mistake that led to Rahul’s goal and denied Marko Leskovic, Nishu Kumar, and Jeakson Singh from the spot.
Defensive Solidity in his third season
Under Marquez’s third season in the Hero ISL, Hyderabad FC continued to show remarkable character and excellence.
The Yellow and Black re-signed Odei Onaindia to pair with Sana Singh at the centre-back position, and together, they were almost impenetrable. Onaindia was the standout performer for his side as HFC put on an incredible defensive performance throughout the season.
The side put intense pressure on the ball, which ultimately resisted the opposition's attempts to create enough chances against Marquez’s side. Hyderabad FC had the best defensive record, conceding just 16 goals across the whole campaign.
Repeating the feat
Marquez’s side began their campaign in a dominant fashion, just as they had finished the previous season. Hyderabad FC finished the Hero ISL 2022-23 with an impressive 42 points from 20 games, ending the season four points behind champions Mumbai City FC.
Although they narrowly missed out on the coveted Hero ISL League Winners’ Shield for a second consecutive year, Hyderabad FC’s third season under Marquez should be viewed positively.
In the 2022-23 Hero ISL season, they ended their league phase with the most wins (13) and achieved their highest-ever points tally in a single Hero ISL season (42).