Newcastle United

What Newcastle United can expect from Paulo Fonseca

Max Cooper
Fonseca is one of the names in contention for the Newcastle job
Fonseca is one of the names in contention for the Newcastle job / Gabriele Maltinti/GettyImages
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It's the announcement all Newcastle United supporters have been waiting for: Comunicado Oficial - Steve Bruce's shadow will no longer darken the St James' Park entrance.

The extremely unpopular Magpies coach left the club by mutual consent on Wednesday morning to the surprise of absolutely no one.

The ambitious new owners have got their own targets in mind to replace the departed coach, with Eddie Howe, Lucien Favre and Paulo Fonseca all being given the once over. Fonseca is the current favourite for the job, even if he doesn't boast any Premier League experience on his CV.

So, what can Newcastle supporters expect from Fonseca, should the new owners decide he is the man for the job?


POSTIVES

1. Fun attacking football

Newcastle United Fans
There'll be plenty of goals on Tyneside / Stu Forster/GettyImages

It feels like an eternity since the Newcastle faithful enjoyed watching football matches, due to the presence of Bruce and/or Ashley.

Sunday was a glimpse into the Magpies' future of how the club's match days could look, but the supporters need the good football to go with the celebrations. Well, Fonseca will deliver goals, that's for sure.

Roma averaged two goals a game in Fonseca's first season at the club, which was not bad going when compared to Newcastle's return of *checks notes* 38 goals in 38 Premier League games during the same campaign.

Double the output, infinite increase of fun.


2. Improves best players

Allan Saint-Maximin
The real Prince of St James' Park / George Wood/GettyImages

We know that the main priority for Newcastle fans is finding a manager who:

1) Is willing to take risks and attack.
2) Will squeeze the most out of their best players (AKA Allan Saint-Maximin).

Fonseca certainly ticks both of those boxes. He turned Henrikh Mkhitaryan into a goal and assist machine, and helped Jordan Veretout on his transformation from Aston Villa reject to France international.

He also gave Chris Smalling the platform to roll back the years and put himself into international contention, while catapulting Leonardo Spinazzola into the most sought-after left-back across Europe.

I can see the Matt Ritchie to Real Madrid links already...


3. 3-4-3

Jamaal Lascelles
Lascelles would be part of a back three / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

The formation and system which Fonseca deploys is the 3-4-3, demanding his wing-backs to push as high up the pitch as possible, thus allowing the wide players in the front three to tuck in and float around the final third.

It's no surprise then that Roma's two star players under the manager were left wing-back Spinazzola, the Euro 2020 superstar, and Mhkitaryan, who profited from the space created by the marauding Italian.

While Ritchie won't supply Saint-Maximin with the same levels of support that Spinazzola offered, the Frenchman could still run riot and produce never-seen-before returns in front of goal. It is a seriously exciting prospect.


4. Can attract quality players

Henrikh Mkhitaryan
One of the players who thrived under Fonseca / Giuseppe Bellini/GettyImages

Newcastle need a boss who can work with the players he's got at his disposal for the time being, while also attracting the next generation of Toon heroes to the club.

Fonseca is a realistic name for the Magpies to be courting, and his arrival would definitely turn the heads of a good level of footballer. Anyone who has watched his work knows he is an accomplished coach, and as a forward, it's a privilege to play under his tutelage.

Plenty of attacking superstars will see his appointment as a platform to thrive in the biggest league in the world, and even if that means Newcastle starts off as an immediate stepping stone, it's undeniably an improvement on their current squad options.


NEGATIVES

5. Defensive calamities

AS Roma v Cagliari Calcio - Serie A
Chaos at the back / Giampiero Sposito/GettyImages

While Roma were always at the top end of the charts for attacking ability, they were equally as prolific in conceding goals, too.

Fonseca's side shipped 58 goals over the course of the 2020/21 campaign - more than any other team in the top ten. Ultimately, that cost them the chance of reaching Champions League qualification, but for Newcastle, the punishment could be much more severe.

The Premier League is an unforgiving division, and if the Magpies continue leaking goals, things could somehow get worse before getting better.


6. High risk football

Chris Smalling, Gianluca Mancini
Errors at the back proved costly / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

While high-risk football can be entertaining, it's not exactly what you need when you're stuck in a relegation battle. Normal clubs tend to opt for a regimental hand to steady the ship - but Newcastle are not a normal club.

If they choose Fonseca, it'll be because they believe he can carry them from the lower end of the table and into the top six or seven. The first task is making that step away from relegation, however.

Fonseca wouldn't class himself as a specialist in helping a club escape the drop, but he may need to put this untrained set of skills to the test.

Is it a risk that would backfire?


7. Partial to a clanger

Sevilla FC v AS Roma - UEFA Europa League Round of 16
A disastrous moment / Pool/GettyImages

While he is generally on the ball when it comes to his tactics and game plan, Fonseca is partial to the odd clanger - which can come with disastrous consequences.

Roma supporters grew frustrated by his lack of substitutions, but that certainly wasn't the case when the Giallorossi faced Spezia in the Coppa Italia.

The Portuguese coach made one substitution too many over the course of the match, meaning Roma were forced to forfeit the game and fall to a 3-0 defeat. The jokes on Spezia anyway, since the Giallorossi lost 4-2 on the night anyway.

Bruce comes off like prime Sir Alex with that story.


8. Not the man for long-term domination

If Newcastle want to go from current relegation dangers to title contenders, there's going to be a major transitional period. Fonseca would help with the initial stages, but in the long run, he isn't the man to conquer England and Europe - due to his terrible record against direct rivals.

Despite battering some of the lower teams in the division and playing stunning football along the way, Fonseca just couldn't replicate that success against the top teams.

In the 2020/21 campaign, Roma finished seventh. Against the six teams above them and Sassuolo, the side which finished one place below them, I Giallorossi won one game out of a possible 14. One. They lost seven of those clashes, drawing the other six.

It's a long way off being a current problem for the Magpies, but it's something to keep in mind.

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