“My obsession is to attack and to have the ball as many times as possible. If we have the ball, we will have many chances to score and to win. That’s my philosophy.” – When asked about his idea on football, Oscar Garcia reacted without blushing. Despite being in the early years of his coaching career, he seems to have the belief, dedication and philosophy to make it into the big world. After a short spell under Johan Cruyff as assistent coach of the Catalan national team, he is ready to stand on his own feet and to show the world what he got.
After hanging up his boots, the 40 year old Oscar Garcia started his coaching career in 2009. It was Johan Cruyff who added him as assistent coach to his staff during his spell as manager of the national team of Catalunya. It turned out to be the second time that Cruyff played an essential role in Oscar’s career as it was the same Dutchmen who gave him his debut as footballer in the shirt of Barcelona in 1991. The two had quite a successful partnership on the bench marked by the astonishing 4-2 victory over Argentina. In the meanwhile, Oscar combined his position as assistent coach with managing the Catalan national team under 18 years. It didn’t last long before he grabbed his first trophy as coach after winning the Spanish Autonomous Community title with Catalunya U18 in 2010. After a successful and especially educational year with Cruyff in Catalunya, he decided to move on with the experience he gained. Nowadays, he still describes this period under Cruyff as the most important and meaningful one in his career as coach: “For me, Cruyff was the most important coach to learn about football and with a very clear philosophy. I learned a lot from him as both player and coach.”
Oscar’s potential as a young, hardworking and dedicated coach didn’t got unnoticed by the club where he grew up as footballer. In the summer of 2010, he was unveiled as coach of the highest ranked youth-team of Barcelona, the Juvenil A (U19). With players as Rafinha (Celta de Vigo), Deulofeu (Everton), Icardi (Internazionale) and Dongou (Barcelona B) at that point in the team, he had some gifted attacking minded players, but it turned out that the team by itself was their strongest quality. In the end, he guided his team in his first season and for the second time in the history to the treble by winning the National League, Copa del Rey and Regional League. A hundred procent score of 3 out of 3 with a team that played sensational football according to the ground rules of Rinus Michels his ‘Total Football’. An attacking minded 4-3-3 system based on possesion and passing combined with high pressing and deep runs from the midfield. Oscar’s first step as head coach was a fact. Afterwards, he admitted to the Catalan press how much he enjoyed the tactical details he dealt with: “I love it. I love to study how to make the opponent suffer, how to make use of the qualities of my players, I have a passion for it.”
After his excellent first season as head coach of Barcelona Juvenil A, he became one of the main candidates to succeed Luis Enrique as manager of Barcelona B. With his results and especially his philosophy in his favor he looked the dream candidate. “Our priority in La Masia is to produce players who can play for the first team. If this can be combined with titles, much better, but winning trophies isn’t the main goal in our youth-system.” Despite these words and the immense amount of support from the fans, it wasn’t Oscar Garcia, but Eusebio who got appointed as coach of Barcelona B. After all, a bitter pill to swallow for the eager Oscar who looked made for that function at the B team. Later that season, the relationship between him and the board appeared completely ruined, causing Oscar to step away from his function as manager of Barcelona Juvenil A and joined the Israelian club Maccabi Tel Aviv. Suggestions have been made that the close relationship between Oscar Garcia and Johan Cruyff formed the basis of his departure. Where Cruyff had an immense impact on Barcelona as both player and coach, it was Sandro Rosell (FC Barcelona president) who ruined their relationship by stripping Cruyff of his honorary president title at Barcelona. After this accident, the two couldn’t go along with eachother, resulting in several other issues and even the dismissal of several Cruyffistas (friends and admirers of him) at FC Barcelona.
At the time he joined Maccabi Tel Aviv, they were desperately looking for a coach who could bring them the success from the past that they needed. Success that Oscar Garcia promised in his first press-conference. A combination of dedication, tactical brilliance and his football philosophy of attacking and attractive football lead them to the first title since 2003 with a huge number of 13 points clear of runner-up Maccabi Haifa. Not only the league title, but also Champions League football became reality as a result of the impressive first season of Oscar at Maccabi Tel Aviv. Israeli newspapers were full of praise for the coach of the newborn Maccabi Tel Aviv: “He took a depressed club and infused it with new life. He took a club that had collapsed and returned it to its former glory.” Only a few days after winning the league title, the Catalan announced that he stepped down as coach of the Israelian club due to personal reasons.
Longtime it looked if Oscar Garcia was heading towards a sabbatical, but completely out of nowhere it appeared Brighton and Hove Albion that presented the 40 year old Spaniard as their new coach. The club, playing in the Championship in England, was looking to change something in the philosophy of the club and considered Oscar Garcia as the most suited person to fulfil this job. In his first interview on English soil he admitted he wants to play according to his philosophy of attacking football: “I grew up with a very clear philosophy. I spent all my life in Barcelona. I like the style of attacking football, it’s the best style to win games. I like to be a coach of an active team causing other teams to adapt to us. I like to have the ball. If we have the ball, we have the power of the game. It’s my target to make the fans happy.”
It may not be the most fascinating or interesting clubs that Oscar Garcia managed so far, but the 40 year old Catalan is well aware of the long way he still has to go. He prefers the progressive path towards top level over a rapid move that is doomed to fail: “After Maccabi Tel Aviv, I had many chances to earn a lot of money, much more than at Brighton. But I live my life and career based on my feelings. I don’t move for money. If I did that, I wouldn’t be here in England.” To sum it all up, Oscar Garcia is a dedicated and hard working coach demanding the most out of his players. His graduation as footballer and coach at La Masia, his period as assistent coach of Cruyff, his own vision on football and his philosophy make him (one of) the most promising young Spanish coaches. His results and trophies from the past proved his qualities and his achievements in the future will strengthen his position as upcoming top coach.