India’s premier football competition, the Indian Super League (ISL), underwent several changes ahead of the ISL 2020-21 campaign, including a bucketload of alterations in terms of ISL coaches. So today, we dive deep to look at all ISL team coaches for the seventh edition of the tournament.
ATK Mohun Bagan coach - Antonio Lopez Habas
ISL winner 2014 and 2019-20
Antonio Lopez Habas has been in ISL since its inception in 2014, a campaign where he guided ATK, then known as Atletico de Kolkata, to the ISL title. After three seasons with the Kolkata-based side, Habas switched his alliance to a now-defunct FC Pune City for the ISL 2016-17 season. The team finished a lowly sixth under his leadership and after a reported rift with the management, Habas stepped down from his position before returning to ATK in 2019 and again winning the title.
The 63-year-old prefers an aggressive 3-5-2 approach and has been rather successful at it. Last season, with ATK, he lost a mere five out of 21 games, with his team scoring 33 goals in the league stage - second best - and conceding just 16 - second best - during the phase.
Bengaluru FC coach - Carles Cuadrat
ISL winner 2018/19
Having previously worked with Frank Rijkaard at Galatasaray as a physical trainer, Carles Cuadrat’s first taste in Indian football came in 2016 with Bengaluru FC before being appointed as the head coach following Albert Roca’s departure by the end of ISL 2017-18 season. In his first year with the club, Cuadrat made Bengaluru FC ISL season 5 winners and went on to make numerous records. In the ISL 2018-19 season, Bengaluru FC went on an 11-game unbeaten run, which is the longest unbeaten streak in the league.
The season they became the first and only club till date to top the league stage and win the title. Since his appointment, Bengaluru FC are the only team to make it to the ISL playoffs in every campaign. These numbers alone make him one of the leading ISL coaches.
Cuadrat loves to work in a traditional 4-2-3-1 formation and likes his full-backs to run along the wide areas. Given how glaring Bengaluru FC have been under him, one can expect another title challenge this season.
Chennaiyin FC coach - Csaba Laszlo
Manager of the year (Hungary): 2003-2004
Manager of the year (Scotland): 2008- 2009
Csaba Laszlo has a lengthy list of clubs, including the Hungarian and Scottish sides, in his managerial resume. And while he is yet to win a title, his approach has been fruitful in most of his tenures. He has even served as the head coach of the Uganda national team and took them from 181 to 91 in the FIFA rankings during his two-year stint.
Laszlo replaced Owen Coyle at Chennaiyin FC ahead of the 2020-21 season and judging by the wealth of experience he brings, the Marina Machans will once again be one of the title challengers.
East Bengal coach - Robbie Fowler
Robbie Fowler’s last managerial job came with the A-League side Brisbane Roar. During his brief tenure with the club, he was named the manager of the month for January and February 2020. His managerial career, however, began way back in 2011 when he was appointed as the player-manager by Muangthong United - Thailand’s top-division side - midway through the 2011-12 season.
East Bengal will be Fowler’s third managerial project and it will be interesting to see how it pans out as the club themselves are making their debut in the Indian Super League.
FC Goa coach - Juan Ferrando
Moldovan Super Cup: 2013
Gamma Ethniki: 2017–18
Football League: 2018–19
Despite being just 39, Juan Ferrando has bagged three titles in his managerial career, and that speaks volume about his approach. He, in fact, took Volos FC, his last assignment, from third division to the top tier of Greece during his three-year stint. Before all the titles though, he had managed the reserve side of Malaga CF and was then part of the club’s coaching staff during the 2012-13 season.
Ferrando prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation and won 29 of his 54 games with Volos with it; his best return in his career till date.
Hyderabad FC coach - Manuel Marquez Roca
Following Albert Roca’s move to FC Barcelona to work as a fitness coach under Ronald Koeman, Hyderabad decided to rope in Manuel Marquez Roca, who has coached a number of Spanish sides in his career, including a brief stint with Las Palmas in the Spanish La Liga. Roca has been a journeyman throughout his managerial career, having spent his time in Croatia and Thailand before arriving on the Indian shores.
Jamshedpur FC coach - Owen Coyle
Premier League Manager Of The Month twice
Owen Coyle arrived late in the Indian Super League setup last season but played a big role in Chennaiyin FC’s run to the final. In his 15-game stint with ISL 2019-20 runners-up, he won eight and lost just four. Joining Jamshedpur FC for the 2020-21 season means he is their fourth manager since 2017. Coyle has had a glaring managerial career, having achieved promotion to the Premier League with Burnley in 2009, and defeating Manchester United with the Clarets at home for the first time in 33-years.
Kerala Blasters coach - Kibu Vicuna
I-League winner: 2019/20
Kibu Vicuna coached Mohun Bagan during the I-League 2019-20 season before the team merged with ATK. Such was the team’s dominance that they finished a whopping 16 points clear of the second-placed East Bengal in the table to be crowned the champions. Vicuna is someone who loves to play possession-based football and one can rightly expect Kerala Blasters to work under similar ethics during the ISL 2020-21 season.
Vicuna’s first managerial assignment came with the Osasuna youth team where he coached the current Chelsea captain, Cesar Azpilicueta. The 49-year-old has managed numerous Spanish teams and has also spent a majority of his time in Poland before arriving in India.
Mumbai City FC coach - Sergio Lobera
Super Cup (India): 2019
Sergio Lobera needs no introduction whatsoever. The 43-year-old has been in ISL since 2017 and has won 33 of his 60 games with FC Goa while losing just 16. Despite being a masterful tactician, Lobera had his fair share of lows with the Gaurs’ board in January this year and Mumbai City FC were quick to add him in their roster.
Lobera coached Barcelona's youth academy between 1999 and 2007 and after a few stints here and there in Spain, he was roped in by the Catalan club once again in 2012, this time as an assistant of their then manager, Tito Vilanova. A month after spending his time alongside Vilanova, he was named the head coach of Las Palmas in 2012. He is yet to win a league title in India, but he did guide FC Goa to a Super Cup triumph last season, while also finishing the 2019-20 ISL league stage at the top of the table.
NorthEast United - Gerard Nus
At just 35 years of age, the youngest among ISL coaches, Gerard Nus’ resume boasts of the clubs like Liverpool, Brighton and Hove Albion, Rayo Vallecano and Elche CF. Not to forget his three-year stint with the Ghana national team. Nus started his managerial career with Liverpool’s football academy while being just 22 years of age before being named as a part of the first-team staff. Moves to Brighton as the Head of Academy Coaching and Melbourne Heart as an assistant followed before he got his big break with the Ghanaian team. Under his management, the Black Stars reached the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations in 2017.
During his short managerial career, Nus has worked with the likes of Rafa Benitez, Gus Poyet, and Avram Grant, and the NorthEast United fans can rightly expect great things this season.
Odisha FC coach - Stuart Baxter
J1 League: 1994
Premier Soccer League: 2012-13, 2014-15
Been in management since 1985, 67-year-old Stuart Baxter has a vast managerial experience in as many as eight different countries including Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Japan, and South Africa. Apart from managing clubs across the globe, he has also managed England’s U-19 side, the South African national team and the Finland national team. Baxter comes with a reputation of winning titles and his long list of achievements certainly helps his cause.
Given proper support from the board, the Odisha FC fans can certainly look forward to a better time ahead.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndSuperLeague