Opinion: Paulo Fonseca – Who he is and what he could bring to Spurs

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Paulo Fonseca
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Paulo Fonseca is the latest manager to be linked with the Tottenham job, with Gianluca Di Marzio breaking the story last night.

The rumours are heating up with many reliable journalists confirming that he is Fabio Paratici’s first choice for the role. 

Fonseca’s time at Braga was successful, leading them to a fourth-place finish while also winning the domestic cup

However, the Portuguese manager saw most of his success coming during a tenure in Ukraine, winning the double in every season he was in the job.

This spell earned him a move to AS Roma and his time in Italy was mixed, with a fifth-place finish in his first season which was an improvement for a relatively poor Roma squad. 

The beginning of the 20/21 season started very well for AS Roma with them sitting third in the table after 17 games, five points off the top. However, injuries hit the squad hard and they began to fall, ultimately finishing in 7th. 

Fonseca did, however, manage to reach the Europa League semi-final beating Ajax only to fall short against Manchester United. 

In an interview with the Telegraph in 2018, Fonseca said: “I like my teams to play well. We have to have the courage to play well all the time, and in the same way whoever the opponents. It doesn’t matter if I play against City or another team – my team has to have the courage. I will die with this philosophy.”

This clearly fits Daniel Levy’s idea of the Tottenham DNA while someone like Antonio Conte, in his eyes, does not. 

Let’s delve into some statistics to give some insight into how his sides operate. Fonseca focuses heavily on building from the back, and he likes to employ a 4-2-3-1 or a 3-4-2-1.

His sides are known for their fluidity and he likes to play patiently, focusing on short passing and controlled build-up. This style needs to have good ball-playing centre backs, which is why Roma struggled when they picked up key injuries at the back last season.

One thing we would be getting is exciting attacking football and in his 3-4-2-1, Roma averaged a 1.86xG per 90 and averaged 2.13 when using a 4-2-3-1, according to UnderStat.

These attacking outputs aren’t too bad considering the level of players he had to work with, including Premier League rejects such as Henrikh Mkhitaryan being the star man. 

In European competition, Fonseca has also done particularly well, beating Manchester City 2-1 back in 2017 with Shaktar and also reaching the Quarter Final of the Europa League with Braga, which was massively overachieving.

Some may look at Roma’s heavy loss to Man Utd in the Europa League semi-final as a cause for worry but when you look at the XG over the two legs, Roma accumulated an XG of 6.1 (first leg 1.63 and second leg 4.47) with United only just slightly edging them at 6.56.

So if Roma had taken a few more of their chances, it would have been a closer tie, reflecting well on the manager but not on the team. 

Expected points also had them one place higher in sixth come the end of the season and before injuries hit Roma hard towards the back end of the campaign, on March 1st, expected points had them in third only behind Juventus and Inter Milan (UnderStat).

This is similar to Brighton and Graham Potter who are overachieving massively on expected points and goals but because of the lack of quality in the side they finished 16th. 

He definitely plays a brave brand of football which would be exciting to watch and I wonder whether, with a higher quality of players, he could do very well

However, it is still a huge risk and a worry with Fonseca is his record against the big sides in Serie A with Roma only beating one side who finished above them last season, coming against 6th place Lazio in a 2-0 victory. 

Spurs fans would need to get on board with whoever is appointed but another reason for optimism is the fact he’s Fabio Paratici number one target. 

Fabio Paratici, especially by the Italian media, has been labelled as the best Sporting Director in the world, further shown by him winning the award for the best sporting director at the Globe Soccer Awards in 2019. 

Paratici knows more than us fans, he experienced Fonseca’s Roma first hand last season in Serie A and was clearly left impressed with how they played. 

Any manager now linked to Spurs would seem an uninspiring choice because of the links to Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino. 

This appointment would be uninspiring, not just for the fans but also for the likes of Harry Kane. Harry Kane is a one of the worlds best and deserves to be playing under the very best managers, not someone as inexperienced at the top level like Fonseca.

Erik ten Hag, for me, would be a better appointment but in the mind of Daniel Levy, Fonseca is unemployed, wages are low and he does fit the Tottenham DNA.

We’ve brought in Fabio Paratici to oversee all important footballing decisions and the Spurs hierarchy have put their faith in him, therefore, so should our fans.

It’s not my ideal choice by any stretch of the imagination but I’ll back whoever comes in until they give me a reason not to.

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