XtraTime Web Desk: Albert Roca – the name is no new to Indian football. The member of the coaching staff at Barçelona under Frank Rijkaard between 2003 and 2008, Roca was also coach of Indian club Bengaluru between 2016 and 2018, bringing the blaugrana philosophy to a country undergoing a footballing revolution. In an interview with FC Barcelona, Albert Roca tells us about how India has welcomed the Barça style and much more.
What can you tell us about Albert Roca, the coach?
I was very close to becoming coach of the Indian national side and my time at Bengaluru FC was a really good one. However, a year out of the game has made me reflect and I would like a new footballing challenge.
Why did you choose India as a destination to be a coach?
Initially, I was not sure. I didn’t know much about it but I did find out that football in India was on the right track, progressing every year. The Indian Super League had improved a lot in quality with the signings of quality players and it was no longer a question of marketing aimed at fans.
Is training that different at Barça and Bengaluru FC?
The same. We have always based it on tactical periodisation and integrated work. Tactical work has always been the main motor behind what we do with other aspects such as fitness, technique, mental approach built around it.
Wherever I have been, I have tried to put together a coaching team comprised of people who have a connection that can translated into the way the team plays and their success. In all the countries in which I have coached I have had a video analyst, as pictures are worth more than a thousand words. In the end, wherever you go, the most important thing is to be surrounded by a group of professionals.
Is it easier to be a coach at Barça or at Bengaluru?
All coaching jobs are difficult. FC Barcelona is a world in itself; the pressure that exists to win trophies goes beyond everything as it is a global club. Nevertheless, as Bengaluru coach you have the same pressure to win titles – it’s a really well known club in India, more so now as they have got used to winning trophies: two cups (with Roca as coach) and a league title.
Can the footballing culture at FC Barcelona be transferred to an Indian team?
You can’t but we use parts of it. We have to adjust and adapt to the quality of the players. At Bengaluru there were moments when we would build moves with the ball. Even though our style was based on the method and philosophy at Barça, we had to adapt it to the players we had.
Do the fans in India like the Barça style?
I think they do. The Barça philosophy is taking root in India. They realise that before English football dominated but now it’s different. They understand that with a more elaborate style of play you can have the same level of success or even more.
Despite the limitations that you have mentioned, could we say that the Barça style has turned Bengaluru into a winning team?
In the last three years they have won three trophies: two cups (with Alberto Roca as coach) and a league title (with Carles Cuadrat as coach, a former FC Barcelona youth team player). Little by little the Indian players have adapted to our way of playing and as a result the titles have come and the local fans have been very appreciative.
How do you see the future of Indian football?
It’s getting more and more organised. The Federation is right on top of things making sure it all goes properly; they want the team to abide by rules so there is financial stability. Furthermore, there are private businesses that want to support football. Nevertheless, the overall structure needs strengthening as does the youth football system. But given the level of organisation and their approach, improvements will come.