Ever wondered how a “mutual decision to part ways” works at a football club? As far as such decisions go, it generally tends to be the will of one party, and the acceptance of the other. The press statement may be glossed over with many words, including “philosophy”, but it can never be “mutual” or easy, especially when it comes mid season.
And as far as philosophy goes -- the word was liberally used by Bengaluru FC in their press release announcing the sacking of coach Carles Cuadrat. The vague idea on which football books are written about, and what can be used to make a sacking sound distinguished, special, and something larger than life -- philosophy is always larger than life.
Cuadrat was in his fifth season with the club and had enjoyed many successes. He spent the first two as assistant to Albert Roca before taking charge as head coach. He will be replaced by Naushad Moosa, who will step in as interim coach. And while three back-to-back defeats is something sack-worthy, BFC officials decided to portray a larger-than-results reasoning for the mid-season sacking.
“We are currently in a good position this season and we back the staff and players to build on it in the coming weeks,” said Parth Jindal, director of Bengaluru FC.
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If the club is really in a good place then why change mid-season and upset a set applecart, especially when everyone is already under pressure thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and the bio-bubble they are all prisoners of. Jindal had answers for that as well.
“After deep deliberation with the management, we feel the club needs to head in a new direction – one where the ethos and philosophy of Bengaluru FC begins reflecting again. While we enjoyed success with Carles in the past, we felt there was a departure from the philosophy that we hold true this season, which prompted us to arrive at this decision,” said Jindal.
“I want to express gratitude for everything that Carles has done for this wonderful football club. In the five years he has spent with us, he has been through all the ups and downs we’ve experienced at BFC,” he added.
“He was around when we lost the AFC Cup final and then the ISL final, before leading us to the ISL title on that night in Mumbai.”
Jindal is confident of what Moosa can bring onto the table even though he is untested beyond being assistant or a grassroots/age group coach. Jindal and the BFC management have put the burden on Moosa to bring the club back to the right philosophy while adding that the management is already looking for a permanent replacement.
“Naushad Moosa has been with the club for four seasons and we are confident he will get the team to play the kind of football that we have based our success on. Meanwhile, our search for a replacement has already begun and we will be bringing in someone who we believe can further the philosophy and style of this club. Our ambition of challenging for titles while developing young talent that goes on to represent the country remains unchanged,” said Jindal.
Under Cuadrat, Bengaluru FC became the first and only team in the history of the Indian Super League to top the table and win the title the same season. The Blues, under the Spaniard, also hold the League record of most consecutive wins (six), unbeaten streak (eleven games) and clean sheets (eleven).
Cuadrat said: ““I greatly appreciate the club for giving me the opportunity to be Head Coach. It has been a relationship where I have been treated really well and a club that I will always have fond memories of. I would like to thank the owners and management whose vision has been excellent, players who have always been at my service, the staff that I have worked with and that have stood by my side across five seasons and the fans, who have been tremendous in their support, and without whom we could never have carved out so many beautiful nights at the Kanteerava and away. I wish the club all the luck through the season and beyond. This club and the people associated with it will forever be in my heart.”
East Bengal Hold FC Goa
Ten man East Bengal showed grit and grace in equal measure, holding FC Goa 1-1 in an Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Tilak Maidan Stadium on Wednesday. Nigerian forward Bright Enobakhare scored a brilliant goal to give East Bengal the lead. Minutes later though, Devendra Murgaonkar got the equaliser for Goa. Both the goals came late in the second half.
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East Bengal goalkeeper Debjit Majumder got into the action right after the start when he had to go full stretch to save a header from Goa’s Australian defender James Donachie. Majumder continued to remain the busiest man on the pitch, thwarting Goa’s attacking efforts. Ortiz had multiple scoring opportunities but all his efforts that were on target were parried away.
In the 79th minute, Enobakhare scored a breath-taking goal for East Bengal. The SCEB striker, with his smooth dribbling skills floored four Goa defenders and the goalkeeper, Mohammad Nawaz, to bring about the stunning finish. Enobakhare’s sublime effort would definitely count as one of the best individual efforts in the tournament. East Bengal’s joy was short-lived as substitute Devendra Murgaonkar nodded home the equaliser in the 81st minute.
Earlier, East Bengal went down to 10 men in the 55th minute when Fox was sent off with a direct red card.
Manchester Derby: City outclass United
Manchester City reached their fourth straight League Cup final as second half goals from John Stones and Fernandinho gave Pep Guardiola’s side a 2-0 win over Manchester United in the semifinal at Old Trafford.
City will meet Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in the April 25 final as they seek their fourth League Cup triumph in a row.
In a frantic opening to the game, both teams had efforts ruled out for offside with Stones turning the ball into his own net but being saved by the flag and Ilkay Gundogan converting a low ball in from Phil Foden but, again, the attempt rightly ruled out.
Guardiola’s side went ahead five minutes after the break when Foden whipped in a free kick from the left through a crowded box and defender Stones bundled a cross home at the back post, the ball going in off his thigh. Fernandinho made sure of the win seven minutes from time with a stunning volley as he pounced on a headed clearance from Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
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United have now lost at the semi-final stage in their last four Cup campaigns, leaving manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still searching for his first final since taking over at the club. “We’re getting closer. This is a much better version of United than a year ago in those semis,” the Norwegian said.
“It’s not psychological, sometimes you meet good teams in the semis. City are probably the best team in England at the moment,” he added.
City entered the field in number eight shirts in tribute to former player Colin Bell who died on Tuesday and Guardiola said they had honoured his memory.
“It’s for Colin Bell and his family. He helped to build something special for this club. It’s an incredible victory for us to beat United away and it was for him absolutely,” he said.
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