Manolo Marquez: I know we’ll field a good team and enjoy a good season

Manolo Marquez, speaking in his first press conference since being announced as FC Goa’s new head coach sounded upbeat about the upcoming 2023-24 season, as he takes over the reins of the Gaurs after three successful years with Hyderabad FC.

“We’ve taken a detailed look into the squad; we’ve discussed things to improve with the Club’s management. While I cannot tell you the details yet, I know that we’ll field a good team, and enjoy a good season,” said the 54-year-old in an online interaction with journalists on Tuesday.

“You need a balanced team that can play more than one style of football. If we are able to do this, then we can hope to do well in the league. As of now, we have the pre-season period to work on this, then we’ll see.”

The Spaniard, who lifted the ISL trophy with the Nizams in 2021-22, is no stranger to success, having also led them to two successive playoffs. He, however, stayed away from any comparisons with his previous club as he gears up to take the charge at FC Goa.

“When you’re starting work in a new club, you cannot compare that with your previous jobs. For me, FC Goa is a new chapter, a new assignment and I’m starting afresh. We would like to start training as soon as possible with the new season now beginning, and we would like to take things from there in a step-by-step fashion,” he explained.

Manolo Marquez also revealed how the Club’s philosophy and playing style had a role in him accepting Goa’s offer, despite receiving interest from other teams in the league.

“Some coaches say they have a fixed style of play while some say that they have to adapt to the players. To me, I feel it’s a mix. FC Goa’s players are already adapted to a style of play and I will work with them to improve on it.

“About the philosophy, I think FC Goa’s importance on youth development and attacking football are something that most teams would want to emulate. It’s good that we already have it,” he further added.

‘FC Goa can beat any team in the ISL’

The tactician was asked about the rise in quality of the league as well, with most teams already hard at work preparing for the upcoming season.

“I think about this every year. Ahead of my first year here in India, at Hyderabad, I didn’t know much about Indian football. But since then, I’ve seen how teams build during the off-season and pose stronger challenges next time,” stated Marquez.

“FC Goa, for instance, has been no different, having stayed within the top-six for practically the whole 2022-23 season after finishing ninth in the previous year.

“If you ask me, there are two teams who are clearly above the rest of the lot – Mumbai City and Mohun Bagan SG, who are like Barcelona and Real Madrid in Indian football. However, the other teams follow close behind and often do equally well, like in the last season where only the bottom two teams dropped out of the playoffs race earlier than usual.

“FC Goa can beat any team in the ISL – be it in home or away conditions. This year, we will try to build a very competitive team by improving on what we already have, and our aim is to definitely compete for the top honours,” Manolo Marquez concluded.

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