If Paulo Fonseca rumours are true, he's not a bad option for Celtic

By Euan Davidson

May 5, 2021

Don’t get us wrong: we’re on Eddie Howe’s Celtic Helicopter, but as back-ups go, Paulo Fonseca is more than capable.

Duncan Castles of the Transfer Window Podcast has suggested that Fonseca was “offered” to Spurs and Celtic. Currently at Roma, who will be taken over by Jose Mourinho this summer, it’s been a tough season for the Portuguese coach. But as we all know, one bad season doesn’t make a bad career.

Fonseca, who took Shakhtar Donetsk to the knockout stage of the Champions League, has had a mixed managerial record. He didn’t make it work at Porto, but in the Ukraine and Roma, he achieved a measure of success. With Donetsk, Fonseca’s ultra-attacking, fluid football was a must-watch, and successful, too. In each season, he won a league and cup double, utilising talents like Fred, Bernard and Taison to maximum effect.

Earlier, he took the unheralded Pacos de Ferreira to the Champions League, and in his second spell there, beat his former side Porto in the Taca de Portugal. It was their first trophy in 50 years [Outside of the Boot].

If you want an attack-minded coach, he’s your man. At Roma, he was genuinely unlucky in his second season. During the first, I Giallorossi were an excellent team to watch. He used the archetypes of a modern, attacking coach; slick build-up, reliance on full-backs. His build-up play relied on using half-spaces, with a number 10 and deep-lying playmaker relied upon to keep the ball moving through the opposition half.

Formerly a coach dependent on keeping possession of the ball, Fonseca learned to adapt while in his first season at Roma. He told The Athletic:

“I’ve come to understand the importance of transitions. I realise how important it is to win the ball and attack fast because all the teams here are defensively well prepared. Finding space is difficult here. If you don’t attack fast they organise very quickly and you don’t have a transition.”

Paulo Fonseca: an experienced European coach (Photo by Simon Hofmann/Getty Images)

A decent CV, but would Paulo Fonseca represent good value for Celtic?

Again, this is all predicated on the vague notion of Eddie Howe not becoming Celtic boss. These are rumours, albeit from the source who was right about Mourinho taking over from Fonseca at Roma. Maurizio Sarri had been the runaway favourite [Football Italia].

Obviously, the most concerning result we’ve seen from Fonseca in recent weeks was a 6-2 drubbing from Manchester United [Guardian]. Despite scoring from both of their only real chances, Roma were incredibly leaky, and showed an uncharacteristic defensive naïveté.

In terms of European reputation, the result will have temporarily harmed Fonseca. Certainly, it might put Tottenham Hotspur off.

However, the fact that Roma are in a Europa League semi will give the Celtic board something to think about. A modern, attacking coach with a proven track record of developing young talent for a profit, Fonseca’s philosophy may prove attractive.

While we’re not fully indulging the speculation, it’s certainly an interesting shout. After a mixed spell in the Italian capital, Fonseca would have an opportunity at a club similarly sized to Shakhtar, where he spent his most glorious years in management. Having achieved success with both modest budgets, and with the riches of Donetsk, he’s a shrewd operator in the transfer market.

It’s very interesting call, and certainly a good back-up should the Howe situation take another turn.

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