Sergio Lobera vs. Carles Cuadrat

On April 25th, it was announced that former Bengaluru FC Coach Carles Cuadrat has boarded the ship with the task of steering it forward. East Bengal’s new ‘Reset’ initiative began with a new management. Needless to say, the Red & Golds have been one of the most underwhelming teams in the Indian Super League since their inception. Things can be expected to change now that Cuadrat is in charge.

All of this after a lengthy ‘flirt’ with Sergio Lobera, the former FC Goa and Mumbai City FC manager. Lobera was in China, managing Sichuan Jiuniu, and some stories said that the sale was done. Lobera was anticipated to come after the recently finished Hero Super Cup and was offered a two-year contract. But it was not to be.

Let’s see who really fits in to be East Bengal’s head coach.

Sergio Lobera

The 46-year-old taskmaster is famed for his sophisticated passing system. Which he introduced at FC Goa and then tweaked somewhat to suit his star-studded squad at Mumbai City FC. Lobera has a belief system in football and how it should be played, which will take time to execute. He need a centre pivot, a player around whom his squad revolves. That player (formerly known as Ahmed Jahouh) must be brilliant on the ball. A dynamic midfield enforcer, and a defensive cover.

Aside from that, he has had his share of setbacks. Looking at the players now playing for East Bengal, it would take someone with Lobera’s pedigree to transform them into fluid passers and footballers capable of moving the ball out in tight areas. Lobera has his own list of players with whom he would go to fight. But without them, his team appeared rudderless and weak, frequently running out of ideas. East Bengal would also require a fantastic striker if Lobera joined, as the coach is well-known for his fondness for strikers.

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Carles Cuadrat

Carles Cuadrat, the 54-year-old is flexible in his system and has backup plans. Cuadrat used a 4-3-3 and a 3-5-2 formations in Bengaluru, depending on the scenario and the personnel at his disposal. Without a doubt, he acquired a stronger group at Bengaluru FC, which was previously led by Albert Roca. Nonetheless, he had his own set of issues with key players leaving (read Miku Fedor). These did not deter Cuadrat, who led BFC to several club records during his tenure.

He is a no-nonsense manager with a win-at-all-costs mindset, which East Bengal sorely needs. Cuadrat understands how to recover from a goal or two deficits, throwing his system out of the picture. He instructs his squad to hurl everything at the opposition in order to eke out points. Carles Cuadrat’s defensive unit’s steadiness is another attribute that will serve him well at East Bengal. Cuadrat’s sides are exceedingly difficult to break down, and the two-midfield pivot immediately ahead of the defensive pivot will be crucial for him.

Finally

This is not to say that Carles Cuadrat is a better manager than Sergio Lobera. Both have distinct advantages. Given the situation East Bengal is in, they require a manager who can guide the players into the habit of winning and fighting for points. Once that is established, this team can be transformed into a well-drilled unit. Who would be capable of scoring four or five goals against the opposition without breaking a sweat. It will, however, take time. Furthermore, given the available resources, Lobera would have required more signings than Cuadrat. That is most likely one of the reasons why the deal fell apart after negotiations.

However, all of this is just speculation. It remains to be seen what Carles Cuadrat accomplishes to help revitalise one of India’s oldest clubs. East Bengal should consider themselves successful if they can finish between fourth and sixth in the ISL standings. If Carles Cuadrat fails to fulfil his goals, perhaps a renegade like Sergio Lobera is what the club requires.

Cuadrat and Lobera have very different personalities and approaches, true. There is no denying that their teams share some similarities: a lethal frontline, a rock-solid defence, and a dominant midfield that can operate in tight spaces.

All that will important to them is thriving in those big moments on the pitch. Not your form, not the points you earned in the league, not the goals you scored or clean sheets you held, but how you respond when it counts the most.

Two best friends will be pitted against each other again.

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