SC East Bengal on Wednesday appointed former Real Madrid reserve team manager Manuel 'Manolo' Diaz as the club's new head coach for the upcoming Indian Super League 2021-22 season. Diaz will replace Robbie Fowler, whose contract was terminated earlier on Wednesday following last season's ninth-placed finish.
"SC East Bengal can confirm that the club has agreed with Robbie Fowler to a mutual termination of the head coach's contract," the club announced on Twitter, minutes before announcing Diaz's appointment.
"SC East Bengal is proud to welcome former Real Madrid Castilla coach Manuel 'Manolo' Diaz as the new head coach for the Hero Indian Super League 2021-22 season," the club tweeted.
"With 20 years of coaching experience, including a significant period of time in the Real Madrid CF set-up, Manolo brings with him a wealth of experience and a winning mentality," the club's statement said.
The 53-year-old Spaniard has an overall win rate of 41.77 per cent over 328 matches he coached during his two-decade career, and a 46.66 win rate in his latest stint at Real Madrid Castilla (reserve team) in 2018-19, the release said.
"In Madrid, we say 'winning is in our DNA'. We love the pressure and expectation that comes with coaching a big club," Diaz said.
"Time is short and there is a long and difficult road ahead, but we will do our best to deliver good performances for all SC East Bengal fans."
Diaz, a forward during his playing days, began his managerial career at the Real Madrid youth team but left it in 2006. After a brief period in Mexico, he returned to Spain and was appointed at CDA Navalcarnero in 2008.
A year later, Diaz was named coach of Real Madrid C team. In 2011-12, he guided the team to the second place in the regular season and, despite losing in the playoffs, saw them achieve promotion to Segunda Division B.
In 2013, Diaz became Real Madrid B team manager and took the reserves out of the last position in Segunda Division after winning 13 out of a possible 15 points and four consecutive wins.
In 2017, Diaz was appointed Real Madrid youth system coordinator and a year later became the reserve team manager.
Fowler, a former England international, was appointed the head coach of SC East Bengal in October last year for two years just before the start of the season, but he left after being at the helm of the club for just one year.
"Alongside his assistant Tony Grant, he took charge of the team in a very challenging position of transition and managed to overcome significant odds to bring the fans some moments of joy in the club's first ever season in the Hero Indian Super League," SC East Bengal said of Fowler, who had courted controversies during his one year stint at the helm of affairs.
Under Fowler, SC East Bengal won three matches, drawn eight times and lost nine matches to finish ninth out of 11 teams.
Just like last year, the century-old club has set in motion for the new season late. Only on August 25, they had ended the fight with their investors Shree Cement Limited after the intervention of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee just in time to play in the ISL.
SCL had earlier shot off a letter to Banerjee, expressing their decision to end the five-year deal after the EB management were adamant in not signing the final agreement. The deadlock lasted for about eight months and there were statewide fan protests.