After weeks of uncertainty, Roma can finally start planning for the upcoming season following the appointment of Paulo Fonseca as head coach.
Fonseca was confirmed earlier this morning, signing a two-year contract with the option of a third year. The 46-year-old arrives from Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine, where he spent three seasons.
It’s a positive appointment for Roma, who had been rejected by bigger name coaches like Antonio Conte. Here, Giallorossi Yorkshire looks at the main benefits Fonseca will bring, and the challenges he will have to overcome.
+ Exciting brand of football
The biggest breath of fresh air that will come with Fonseca’s appointment is a change in the style of football. The Portuguese tactician has been quietly building a reputation for an attractive playing style, which is something that has been lacking at Roma for some time. Even in Luciano Spalletti’s successful 2016-17 season, where Roma achieved a record points total, the football had the tendency to be a little boring. Fonseca should bring results as well as an enjoyment factor. How many teams can beat Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at their own game, for example? Fonseca’s Shakhtar did just that in December 2017.
+ Experience in challenging environments
Fonseca’s record at Shakhtar is impeccable – three league titles and three domestic cups in three seasons – but even if the league isn’t as high quality as Serie A, it was far from an easy job. The Ukrainian giants have had to play 300km away from their Donetsk home due to the war taking place in the area surrounding the Donbass Arena.
At Roma, Fonseca will have to deal with a different kind of conflict, as he takes on one of the toughest jobs in football. Expectations are always high, but rarely met. However, he has shown that he can succeed in challenging environments, something which should equip him well for his stay in Rome.
+ Links with good players
Already, Fonseca’s connection with Roma has led to a number of players being linked with the club. The Mozambique-born coach could attract several Portuguese-speaking players, such as defender Domingos Duarte, who has been suggested as a target.
Fonseca could also look to bring some players with him from Shakhtar. Left-back Ismaily and forward Taison have both been linked, and would be welcome additions in positions that Roma need to strengthen. Young midfielder Marcos Antonio has also been mentioned in reports, and although little is known about him yet, it shows that Fonseca appeals to players as hungry to work for him, as he is to work for Roma.
– Lack of experience in Serie A
Of course, it is a concern that this is Fonseca’s first venture into Italian football. He will have to quickly get to grips with an entire new environment, coming up against different kinds of opponents who play a more tactical game. He needs to learn Italian so that his message can get across clearly, or else things could take time to get going – and the early start to the season due to the Europa League qualifiers doesn’t necessarily help.
On the plus side, he has shown a great enthusiasm to come to Roma, with reports suggesting he volunteered to pay his own release clause, so he will be eager to back up his ambition with success. He is clearly well-motivated and eager to prove himself.
– Preference for a high line
During his time at Shakhtar, Fonseca favoured the use of a high back line. The tactic can work well if the right players are available, but Eusebio Di Francesco encountered problems when trying to utilise it with Roma. Federico Fazio in particular can be exposed when asked to play higher up the pitch, whereas he has been solid whenever the defence has been asked to drop deeper. Roma may need to act in the transfer market if Fonseca’s tactics are to be effective.
– Lack of longevity
Until Shakhtar, Fonseca had never lasted in a managerial job for more than two years. For example, he had one-season spells with the likes of Porto and Braga, although at both clubs he did manage to win a trophy. Roma need stability right now, but hopefully Fonseca’s forays in Ukraine have shown that he can last long in a job. And, if he is successful, the hope remains that he will not use Roma as a stepping stone, but as a place where he can, as he has vowed to in his initial interview, “create something special.”
Out of the names available, Roma have picked one of the best. Fonseca is an ambitious manager, who despite his relative young age has plenty of experience. Having coached since his retirement from playing in 2005, he has learnt a lot of lessons along the way, which can help him in his time at Roma. While some may argue otherwise, it is a positive that Roma have gone for a manager from abroad, who can bring fresh ideas to the table. Fonseca will be hoping he can get Roma back where they belong.