FC Goa’s new coach, Juan Ferrando, is just 39 years old but his resume is nothing short of impressive and the Barcelona native enough experience under his belt to excel in his new stint. With his career as professional footballer cut short by injuries, he got into coaching as early as the age of 18. Ferrando began his career with the RCD Espanyol’s academy and coached many other youth teams in the lower rungs of Spanish football including Malaga’s reserve team in 2013.
However, way before he got his first taste of coaching in the top flight at Moldovan outfit Sheriff Tiraspol in 2013, he took a different path. Ferrando, a Bachelor in Sport Science graduate, wasn’t satisfied working in Catalonia and decided to go abroad in search of greener pastures. In 2011, when the opportunity arrived for him to join Arsenal as a personal trainer, he didn’t think twice.
During his time in the Premier League, Ferrando trained former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Brighton and Hove Albion’s Vicente Rodriguez amongst few other players. And even though he was not involved in coaching, learning under the finest managers was a big learning curve.
“I love football but that was a moment for me to do something different,’ Ferrando told a group of journalists during a video conference call on Monday.
“Sometimes it is good when you are part of the coaching staff because you can learn more details about football and players. At Arsenal, I was in the physical trainer but I got to learn from Arsene Wenger. When I was at Brighton, Gustavo Poyet was the manager and it was a good opportunity for me to learn from him as well. I learnt the fine details – how to control the dressing room, to prepare for big games like the Champions League and how to motivate players. It was a good experience for me.”
An impressive coaching career
Ferrando would go on to find instant success with Tiraspol, after joining the club as an assistant coach, leading them to a win in the Super Cup in his inaugural season. He later guided the club to the third round of the Uefa Champions League qualifiers for the first time in history. During that same season, the Spaniard came close to leading Tiraspol to the knockout stages of the Europa League before falling short of qualification by two points as Tottenham Hotspur and Anzhi Makhachkala advanced from their group.
Ferrando joined Greek club Ergotelis later on but was shown the door after managing just two games. He returned to Spain in 2015 and coached Cultural Leonesa and Linares before moving to Greece again after signing for third division club Volos FC in 2017, which has been the biggest highlight of his career.
The club witnessed an upward trajectory under Ferrando’s tutelage, winning back-to-back promotions to reach the top tier, the Greek Super League.
Playing the right way
Now at FC Goa, Ferrando replaces former interim coach Clifford Miranda who had been managing the 2019-’20 Indian Super League table toppers, after Sergio Lobera parted ways with the Goan club midway last season. He has an extra task on his hands, leading the Gaurs in their first AFC Champions League campaign.
But one aspect that helped FC Goa carve out a niche for themselves has been their attacking, possession-based brand of football implemented by Lobera and Ferrando fits the same mould, wanting players to express themselves with the ball.
“To protect the ball is good because the more the players have the ball, they will enjoy their time on the pitch,” Ferrando spoke about his philosophy.
“If you are defending all the time and waiting for your opponent to make a mistake, you don’t have a lot of opportunities. But in your mind, if you have the passion to attack all the time, your focus remains positive. Maybe in this case, you can lose, but you have more options to win. This is the mentality I want us to have.”
Ferrando, who has been preparing for the upcoming season back home in Spain due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, admits there’s not a sole blueprint to victory and says his team need to play according to the situation.
“I don’t prefer one model that is rigid,” the 39-year-old explained. “I like to have one model and inside it, players need to find different solutions. Sometimes it’s important to attack the free space against a team with a high defensive line. If the opponent defend with 10 players, we need to work on positional attacks. I want FC Goa to play in different ways depending on situations in the game,” he added.
Despite his pragmatic outlook as coach, Ferrando doesn’t believe in sacrificing style in search of results. Hungry to prove himself, the Spaniard wants FC Goa to continue what they have done since their inception in the ISL – enthralling fans with entertaining football.
“If you keep winning, the mentality of the team is wonderful and everyone is happy,” he explained. “This is the situation in football everywhere but it is equally important for the supporters to enjoy. When you go to a cinema, you want to feel good after watching that film. It is the same in football.”