Paulo Fonseca reportedly next at risk Newcastle manager but Pep Guardiola knows his quality
Steve Bruce has finally stepped down as head coach of Newcastle United and as a result there are a host of substitutes linked to the post.
Eddie Howe, Steven Gerrard, Lucien Favre and Frank Lampard are just a few examples of names that would be in contention, but the current favorite – according to bookmakers – is Paulo Fonseca.
Linked to Tottenham Hotspur over the summer, Fonseca is currently without a club after leaving AS Roma in June after two years at the helm of the Italian squad.
The Portuguese has a wealth of experience despite his relatively young age, having coached FC Porto, Pacos Ferreira and SC Braga in his native country, before joining Shakhtar Donetsk in 2016.
His stay in Ukraine was arguably the most successful. The club’s Brazilian culture has enabled Fonseca to represent an entertaining and engaging brand of football, with players such as Fred – who joined Manchester United – and Bernard – who joined Everton – thriving under his tutelage.
He won seven trophies during his three-year stay in Ukraine, with Pep Guardiola praising his work after facing him several times in the Champions League.
“Before every game against Shakhtar I have the same feeling,” said the Manchester City boss.
“The first time we face them in the group stage, my [scouting] the team went to see them and they came back saying “Wow”. They were really impressed. I can assure you that they were one of the best teams in terms of football. “
The big question mark attached to Fonseca is whether he is quite suitable for the Magpies in their current state, given their position in the Premier League table and the players available for selection.
Regardless of who trains the Toon, it’s reasonable to suggest that the squad doesn’t consist of the type of players required to dominate the ball and build at the back with a high defensive line.
The attacking players at United are certainly capable given the qualities of Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson to name just two, but the difference at the other end of the pitch is glaring.
The Magpies are built to counterattack for now and Fonseca is not fully associated with such an approach; he has benefited from the management of the league’s strongest team in Ukraine, but that wouldn’t be the case at St James’ Park.
On the other hand, Shakhtar tend to have an unusual lineup and one that could be seen as linked to United at the moment.
The club are known to recruit talents from Brazil such as Willian, Fernandinho, Douglas Costa and Fred, but almost all of these players tend to be in midfield or attacking positions.
Shakhtar’s most defensive positions are occupied by Ukrainians or players from the club’s academy, which means that Fonseca already has experience when it comes to a team that is very heavy in terms of quality.
Shakhtar had a lot of flair and technique on offense, but he was forced to merge that with more limited players on defense, and that would largely be the case at Tyneside.
Fonseca has had talks with the club but due to United’s current squad his appointment would undoubtedly come with some risk.
There could be a long-term answer for the Toon – perhaps in the summer once the Premier League’s survival is secured – but until then the Magpies would be justified if they prioritize short-term security in order to stabilize the ship before making a more ambitious appointment in summer.
However, this is not something they are supposed to do.