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A True Blue – Carles Cuadrat leaves a lasting legacy at Bengaluru

Carles Cuadrat topped the league and won the ISL title in the 2018-19 season with Bengaluru…

Carles Cuadrat’s stint with Bengaluru seemed to be one that is set to last for many years when he won the 2018-19 Indian Super League (ISL) trophy. 

But less than two years later, the Spanish coach was asked to leave by the club management and agreed to mutually terminate his contract on January 5, 2021. 

Most managerial changes in ISL has happened in the December-January period but Carles Cuadrat’s departure would have been one silly opinion to make only a year ago. He was deeply involved with the club and their project so the combination seemed unbreakable. But if there’s a start, there’s an end. 

Bengaluru’s shortcomings on the pitch were there for all to see. And that didn’t start this season. However, to blame it all on Cuadrat wouldn’t be an apt assessment of the situation.

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After bagging the ISL trophy, everybody expected the Blues to kick on for bigger and better things, such as putting up a solid showing in Asia. That didn’t happen as Bengaluru lost in the inter-zone play-off semi-final and then crashed out of the Super Cup with a defeat to Chennai City. 

Bengaluru’s star striker Miku, who had been prolific during the title-winning season, had fitness and injury issues throughout the season and at the end of the season, the club decided against renewing his contract as he was deemed too expensive. 

After scoring 20 goals and registering four assists in 32 appearances, Miku left the club and the Blues are yet to find a proper replacement in his position. Manuel Onwu, Kristian Opseth and even Cleiton Silva cannot be compared with the Venezuelan at this point and the goals soon dried up for a team that once treated the final third as their favourite hangout place. 

Ahead of the 2020-21 season, there were further blows when the defence was also affected by the departures. Nishu Kumar, who had grown to be a first-team regular at the left-back role under Cuadrat, left the club to join Kerala Blasters who had produced a significant offer for the young full-back. Centre-back Albert Serran also left the club and what remained was a depleted backline which was once the best in the league. 

Bengaluru’s defence was what helped them land the title in the 2018-19 season as their contributions in the final third had seen a big drop. That continued into the pandemic-hit seventh season of the ISL and Blues put out back-to-back displays which were unimpressive. Losing three games in a row for the first time in the history of the competition was the last straw. 

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It is safe to say that the head coach wasn’t backed by the club in the transfer market ahead of the 2020-21 season but the people in charge will have their own explanations for that, especially since it has been a financially difficult period for all football clubs. 

Carles Cuadrat has left a lasting legacy at Bengaluru. He delivered an important league trophy and topped the league standings, something that nobody else has done. Moreover, he was, and always will be, a true blue.

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