Steve Bruce's sacking came as little surprise following the arrival of Newcastle's new Saudi owners. But who is Paulo Fonseca, the man in advanced talks to replace Bruce in the Toon dugout? The Portuguese could be about to walk into one of the most exciting roles football has to offer.
Newcastle are reportedly about to loosen the purse strings and have ambitions to reach Europe as quickly as possible. Is Fonseca the right man for the job? Let's take a look.
Who is Paulo Fonseca?
Former central defender Fonseca enjoyed a decent career in Portugal's top flight, representing teams such as Porto, Maritimo and Vitoria Guimaraes before hanging up his boots in 2005.
His post-playing career has been far more impressive, however. After starting out coaching the youth team of his final professional club, Estrela Amadora, he managed a number of lower league Portuguese clubs before leading top flight side Pacos Ferreira to Champions League qualification in 2012. Fonseca's only real success in Portugal came during a stint at Braga (after being fired by Porto after just one season), with whom he won the cup.
It was at Shakhtar Donetsk and AS Roma where Fonseca made him name, however. At the Ukrainian club, he masterminded three league titles and three cups in three seasons. While at Roma, he led the perennial underachievers to the fifth in Serie A during the 2019/20 season, before reaching the Europa League semi-final last season.
It was the exciting attacking brand of football he deployed in his last role which cemented his name as one of the most intriguing coaches in Europe.
What is Fonseca's tactical approach?
While at Roma, Fonseca set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with wingers who cut inside and fullbacks who provided width. The 48-year-old prefers a quick, hardworking no.10 as opposed to a technical passer, and Henrik Mkhitaryan was one of the men to benefit most from Fonseca's set up. The Armenian scored 13 league goals last campaign, often bursting forward beyond the central striker to slot home.
Fonseca's teams are possession-heavy, and patiently wait for gaps to open up before launching their attacks. His two midfielders tend to be a mixture of technical skill and energy, meaning a player such as Jonjo Shelvey could find plenty of opportunities to dictate from deep alongside a water carrier at Newcastle.
The former Shakhtar boss's teams are fluid, tactically intelligent and disciplined out of possession. Teams have found it difficult to break them down, something weary Newcastle fans should be thrilled to hear.
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