As Tottenham Hotspur continue their hunt for a new manager following the release of Jose Mourinho in April, the latest candidate is former Roma manager Paulo Fonseca.
Fonseca, 48, managed the Serie A club for two seasons and was succeeded by Mourinho last month.
Spurs owner Daniel Levy's search has included discussions with Mauricio Pochettino for a return to the north London club. Pochettino led Spurs to the Champions League final in 2018-2019, but was released at the end of the season, and joined Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain in January 2021.
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Levy then considered former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, however last week, talks dissolved over the concern of his commitment to developing young players.
Fonseca is the latest candidate in manager transfers, and Eurosport Italy's Carlo Filippo Vardelli breaks down the Portuguese's talents.
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What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Paulo Fonseca is a coach who strongly believes in his idea of football, for example with 4-2-3-1 formations he wants to dominate. During his time at Roma, he was appreciated for understanding the characteristics of his players quickly and in knowing how to bring about ideal conditions to allow players to maximise their strengths. His main strengths lie in getting the most out of what resources he has.
His weaknesses? This year he lost almost all top-level head-to-head clashes, and suffered resounding defeats, although he was more suited to the competitive European environment rather than Italy's domestic league. That is perhaps where he has work to do, though. He could have less pressure at Tottenham than he had to endure in Rome.
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Did he clash with the hierarchy of the club at all?
It is said that Fonseca had discussions with Edin Dzeko and other players, however in the important games he always put those players on the field. The change of ownership at the club with the arrival of the Friedkin family, who did not want him as the coach, did not help him and it increased an already stressful situation. After progressing against Ajax in the Europa League, he explicitly said that some people in the press made up stories to discredit him - and no one in society defended him. Rome is a complicated situation, but he came out as a partial winner.
How well is he suited to a director of football set up?
Very well, in my opinion. If the new director of football is Paratici, the two will speak the same language. It's difficult to say with the troublesome financial possibilities at Tottenham, but Paratici is a very high level scout and Fonseca knows how to improve on the technical side. The two can find many good ideas to assemble the team for the upcoming season in 2021-22 and make it a happy marriage.
What is his style of coaching, and what style of play did his Roma team play?
Fonseca is a son of Vitor Frade's Tactical Periodisation, but unlike Jose Mourinho he has adapted his football towards a much more dominant style with the ball, being proactive and offensive.
With Shakhtar, he played a dominant 4-2-3-1 from the point of view of ball control and offensive circulation, while with Roma he had to opt for a broken game. He did not have the right players to control the ball as he wanted, and therefore opted for a very aggressive (but technically poor) defence. He had a midfield that alternated control (Villar) and versatility (Veretout), a central pivot (Dzeko), two players with a very strong work rate (Spinazzola and Karsdorp or Bruno Peres), and two creative players behind the attacking tip: Pedro, Pellegrini or Mkhitaryan, who rotated.
In many interviews he confessed that he would have liked a team more skilled in dominating games, but the 3-4-2-1 was the only way he could remain faithful to his principles and, at the same time, bring home important results.
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Was his stint at Roma seen as a success?
It was probably not a success per se, as success is not measured solely by titles or victories. But the improvement of the players (Mancini, Spinazzola, Villar, Pellegrini, Karsdorp, Bruno Peres), the European dimension, the first part of the season and many other small things (such as the debut of Ebrima Darboe) were hits.
Anything else we should know about him?
He is a wonderful person, and someone who is of great moral status and endowed with a precious intelligence. Perhaps he won't win anything and will never be the best coach in the world - maybe not even in the top 10 - but hearing him speak and seeing his teams when they can express themselves at their best is a joy. He is not the right manager to win immediately (as Antonio Conte does, for example), but he is a coach able to build something good and to extract value from the players he coaches.
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