Vitor Pereira, the former manager of FC Porto and, more recently Saudi club Al-Ahli, is the latest name to be added to the short-list of the vacant Crystal Palace job. At 46, the two-time Portuguese Champion is not unfamiliar to the English media rumour mill, having been considered a strong contender to succeed David Moyes at Everton before the appointment of current manager Roberto Martinez.
Now, nearly two years on from that aforementioned speculation, Pereira is a free agent set for discussions with Glaziers boss Steve Parish after the sacking of Neil Warnock following a 3-1 defeat to Southampton as Selhurst Park.
Interest aside, Pereira is not the only name Parish will open talks with as a number of esteemed candidates have been connected with the Palace job. The likes of former manager Tony Pulis, United legend and current Hull City manager Steve Bruce, and Asian Champions League winning coach and former player Tony Popovic have all been named as possibilities; but it seems that Pereira’s greatest competition will come from current Newcastle gaffer Alan Pardew.
Deemed as their preferred target to replace Warnock, if the Eagles are to entice their former midfield juggernaut to Selhurst it would leave a sizeable dent in Palace’s January transfer budget if they are to escape relegation, with a hefty buyout clause in his contract thought to be up to £6m.
Worth the gamble?
Steve Parish and his Palace board would recognise the gamble to appoint Pereira considering his lack of Premier League experience and top flight managerial nous encompassed by his lack of senior football having coached mainly at youth level, for the lesser lights of Portugal during his formative years or among the backroom staff.
Aside from a recent spell at Al-Ahli fraught with its controversies, including a media conference blow-up, although, arguably fair. Pereira is known for a stern, and at times fiery, press presence and tactical nous that brought him undoubted success after two years in his homeland with FC Porto, memorably his rivalry with Benfica gaffer Jorge Jesus.
An assistant to Andre Villas Boas, he inherited the mantel at the Estadio do Dragão when the current Zenit coach left for Chelsea in 2011. Inheriting a side considered as one of the greatest in Porto’s history, Pereira was granted the task of settling a side full of stars looking for pastures new. Yet, the no. 2 turned head coach took charge, accentuating FC Porto’s traits under AVB – high pressing, ball circulation and possession. Pereira then went on to win back-to-back titles, losing only once in two league seasons, although disappointing in Europe, before quitting his post upon missing out on the Everton job after a tumultuous and highly criticised tenure that many pundits and fans alike took for granted, until now.
Held in the highest esteem in his homeland, Pereira is currently without a club, meaning he would be able to start immediately with no strings attached. At the same time, Palace will look to survey their options as Keith Millen takes charge as caretaker during the busy Christmas schedule.
If Pereira were to be appointed it would mark the revival of a career that promised so much and has yet received so little. A name sewn into Portuguese folklore after the most exciting and riveting season of 2012/13; Pereira knows success and how to sustain it.
Whether he’s in the Palace dugout or not, Vitor Pereira is set for greater things and greener pastures. Watch this space.