Bengaluru, January 5: Behind every successful coach, there's an assistant manager.
Whether it's the combination of Arsene Wenger-Pat Rice or Sir Alex Ferguson-Steve McClaren duo in Premier League, the assistant coach's role in football goes beyond organising equipment and training sessions. A modern-day assistant coach is now expected to advice the head coach in tactics, set-pieces, formation and other nuances.
The duo of Albert Roca and Carles Cuadrat was, in its own way, quite an efficient one for Indian Super League side Bengaluru FC.
The sudden departure of Cuadrat due to his health concerns left a huge hole at Bengaluru FC. The club acted fast and brought in another Barcelona assistant coach, Marc Huguet, to serve as Roca's man for the rest of the campaign.
"The function of the assistant coach is always important for me," Roca said as Bengaluru gear up to host ATK in an ISL match at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Sunday (January 7). "In any game or training session, there has to be someone that I can trust. He does more than being an assistant. Marc has been a good professional for a long time, and also a friend of mine. That's what I was looking for after Carles' exit.
"I knew the circumstances are difficult. I had to find someone who was free. The most important thing was that I trust the person. Marc has the same background as me (even I started off as an assistant coach in Barcelona) and that's important. I knew him as a person and the decision was very easy."
Very Happy New Year to all the @bengalurufc @WestBlockBlues @bfc_nation Family👍👏⚽!!! Congratulations for a totally deserved victory! Here at home in Barcelona with new Assistant Coach #MarcHuguet watching by live streaming the #KERBEN @IndSuperLeague Match! Great victory guys! pic.twitter.com/IZVLTs7SEn— Carles Cuadrat (@CarlesCuadrat) December 31, 2017
The Roca-Cuadrat combination saw BFC make the AFC Cup final in 2016, clinch the Federation Cup title in 2017 and enjoy a decent start to their ISL campaign. Before Bengaluru FC, they had stints in Galatasaray, Saudi Arabian national team and El Salvador's national team.
Cuadrat was also instrumental in Bengaluru FC's success in set pieces. His plans resulted in Edu Garcia scoring BFC's first-ever goal in the ISL and helped the towering Erik Paartalu record three goals, off set-pieces, in BFC's eight games.
As Cuadrat's replacement, Huguet is expected to take over as the set-piece master. But he comes with a portfolio where he has managed the physical training and over-all organisation of a team.
Gran experiencia de vida y éxito deportivo en Corea del Norte...un viaje difícil de olvidar... pic.twitter.com/qERcKVeRJZ— Albert Roca (@RocaDT_Oficial) September 20, 2017
Roca, however, feels Huguet is up for the task.
"For sure, we have to work hard on set pieces as we were failing in the last few games due to Cuadrat's absence. Marc has to know what I want of him. We already spoke about it in the last two days and that's why his hair is all messed up now. He's taking it step-by-step and trying to fit into that role. I don't want to pressure him. The situation and circumstances have been difficult. We have to look forward.
"Huguet has handled everything in the past. Sometimes he was more focussed on the physical part of the training sessions. He was in the Barcelona youth academy, where you have to handle physical training as well as the roles of an assistant coach. He has a degree in physical education like Carles and me."
He, however, asked Huguet to take it easy in the initial days.
"He has to adapt and it's not easy. But his body language is good. When he feels more comfortable, he can communicate as well as carles did, so it's not a problem for me. For us, body language is important for communication with players, even if your english is just enough for the player to understand. He has to have that kind of communication with the boys. I need his impression and opinion about what happens sometimes during the game. It's just a question of a few days."
Huguet reflected on his time in Barcelona as a memorable one. During his time as an assistant in the Barcelona academy, he saw the likes of Sergio Busquets, Rafinha, Bojan Krkić (Stoke City), Marc Bartra (Borussia Dortmund) and Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy) - I trained all of them at Barcelona. All these guys were good. They worked hard all the time. You can see the future will be splendid.
"When I was the coach there, I was at a level where I had to provide players to go up to the first team. It's an important task or job. All these players, when they are 18-19 years old, they are in the last level of the youth academy."
After Barcelona, Huguet moved to Cordoba CF (La Liga), RCD Mallorca (Segunda Division) and worked last with FC Dinamo Tbilisi in the Georgian first division. Huguet is hoping to prove himself in the ISL before possibly switching to the role of a head coach elsewhere.
"I have not worked as a head coach before," he said. "Although I hope to, well not here (as Albert is already the coach)! It's a good opportunity for me to prove myself. I know about your league and your country. It will be a good experience for me. It will help me grow in my career," he added.