Losc: Paulo Fonseca, the new Zorro of Ligue 1

Losc: Paulo Fonseca, the new Zorro of Ligue 1

Zorro arrived, unhurried. After several days of waiting, Paulo Fonseca signed on Wednesday for two seasons as Losc coach. So far, the successor of Jocelyn Gourvennec has especially marked the spirits by arriving disguised as Zorro one evening of Shakhtar Donetsk’s victory in the Champions League against Manchester City (2-1 in 2017). But to sum up the 49-year-old Portuguese technician as a simple masked avenger would be very reductive.

“He may be capable of crazy things but he’s someone both interesting in his human profile and in his technical profile. He’s a guy who likes the beautiful game and who really gives off something as a man like what he has just experienced in Ukraine where he was very committed to helping families there. low”, says Nicolas Vilas, journalist on RMC Sport and specialist in Portuguese football.

Refugee in Lisbon since the invasion of Ukraine

Because Paulo Fonseca experienced the conflict between Ukraine and Russia very closely. The former Shakhtar coach, married to a Ukrainian, was living in kyiv when the Russian invasion began in late February. Thanks to the help of the Portuguese embassy, ​​he managed to flee the country after a long journey which he had told Sky Sports.

“The trip lasted thirty hours. I saw Ukrainian troops passing on the road several times, we stopped and heard the alarms, several times. I heard the fighter planes go by, but I didn’t see any shots or fights, ”said the new coach of Losc at the time.

Known since his exploits with Paços de Ferreira

A refugee in Lisbon for four months, Fonseca is therefore preparing to resume the thread of his career. In Lille, he will train his first French club after having had touches with Monaco and Lyon in recent years. Less known than Mourinho, Villas-Boas, or even Conceiçao, the 49-year-old technician is far from being anonymous in Portugal. The former professional player with a modest career came into the limelight ten years ago at the helm of the modest Portuguese club Paços de Ferreira.

“He did something crazy by qualifying this small club for the preliminary round of the Champions League after a 3rd place in the league. It was a miracle with the number he had. That’s how he became the new fashionable coach as often happens in Portugal, ”recalls Marco Martins, Portuguese journalist living in France.

Failed at FC Porto

The hype was such that Porto, one of the three leading clubs in the country, hired him the following season. Alas, the idyll does not take and Fonseca remains only one season on the banks of the Douro after a disappointing 3rd place in the championship. “He struggled to manage another level of players. In Porto, the guys think they’re stars because it’s one of the biggest clubs in Portugal,” continues Martins.

It was finally in Braga, with whom he won the Portuguese Cup, that the coach revived before heading to Shakthar with whom he won the title three seasons in a row (2016-2019) with an attractive game just before go to AS Roma.

Adept at the possession game

A claimed fan of Guardiola, a follower of the possession game, Fonseca handles game patterns (4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 3-4-3) depending on what he has at his disposal. “He is not indoctrinated, someone who has a game plan that he cares about. He really does with what he has. He is a realistic coach. He knows how to work with young people. He really has an interesting ability to adapt at this level, ”said Nicolas Vilas.

Not a follower of bloodshed and not the type to hit on arbitration either, Fonseca has above all an image of a cultivated type who loves to talk about football. “He has a calm temperament and does not have this culture of conflict. It is more in the analysis, in the construction of the dialogue. He looks a lot like Leonardo Jardim”, compares Marco Martins. It remains to be seen if his profile will stick to Losc. Without a club since a mixed experience on the AS Roma bench (2019-2021), Fonseca has just relaunched his career in a club under reconstruction. A big bet for the new Zorro of the French championship.


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