3 Reasons Why Portugal Needs to Tap Into Their ‘Fountain of Youth’

Ricardo Esgaio - Portugal U21 - with Luis Martins and Ricardo

It’s About Time

3 Reasons Why Portugal Needs to Tap Into Their ‘Fountain of Youth’ RIGHT NOW!


I still can’t get over it. And when I blink, it’s like I’m watching the whole thing all over again. I floss, and I think about Joao Moutinho’s flat cross. I mop, and I think about Nani coming to a complete stop. I order a pizza slice, and I think about Eder’s version of Bambi on ice. It’s that game… that miserable excuse of a game where Portugal actually lost 1-0 at home to Albania.

In terms of horrifying matches to experience, it ranks right up there with the Euro 2004 final – it gave me a loss of appetite, laryngitis, nausea, dizziness, and a broken remote control. But, what sets them apart is that this latest result didn’t come with a broken heart. It came with a full-blown crisis. And that makes things even worse. Continue reading

Opinion: 10 Reasons Paulo Bento Should be Fired

Photo: publico.pt

Photo: publico.pt

After Portugal’s collapse in this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, Paulo Bento, the Portuguese National Team Manager, has come under fire to resign or for the FPF (Portuguese Football Federation) to sack him. I’ll take a look today at the Top 10 reasons Bento should be fired.

Paulo Bento was born in Lisbon on the 20th of June 1969, he has had some good results over the years as a player, and as a Manager at Sporting CP. Bento even picked up the nickname of Papa-Taças (which translates into Cup Eater) during his tenure at Sporting.

In reality some would say that he won a bunch of meaningless trophies:

• 2 Portuguese Cups
• 2 Super Tacas
• 1 League Cup

As a Manager he lost out on the top prizes including the Liga title, as well as any Euro trophy. His loss to Bayern Munich with a 1-12 aggregate is the record for worst loss by a team in the Champions League, a credit no one wants on their resume.

Of course to the FPF, Bento’s record made him the leading candidate, and on September 20th, 2010 following Queiroz’s dismissal, Bento was hired.

Since then, Portugal has delivered two horrible qualifying campaigns for the 2012 Euro’s and for this World Cup. On both occasions the National Team needed play-offs to qualify, after ending up second behind Denmark and Russia, in relatively easy groups.

Most football pundits had Portugal doing well at this World Cup, although they were slotted in the Group of Death. Expectations were that Portugal would qualify easily in second place from that World Cup group stage.

After the early exit of Portugal from the tournament and the embarrassing defeat by the German’s, many fans and media alike have been critical of Bento’s management of the team.

So here are the Top 10 Reasons Bento Should Be Fired

1. Lack of flexibility in formations – Whether Portugal is playing Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland, Israel, Denmark, Spain, or Germany the formation is always a 4-3-3. Whether the NT is up by a goal, down by two, it is always 4-3-3. If Bento was on Top Chef he would cook the same meal with the same unwashed frying pan, and go out in the first round.

2. Results: Of the last 5 Portuguese National Team Managers (that weren’t interim Manager’s) Bento holds the record for the worst winning percentage. Here is a look at the top 5: 1) Humberto Coelho 66.67% 2) António Oliveira 58.14% 3) Luiz Felipe Scolari 56.76% 4) Carlos Queiroz 55.56% 5) Paulo Bento 54.66%
Unfortunately with the FPF bottom of the table results are good enough to extend a contract till 2016.

3. Playing favourites/Squad selection/Playing over the hill players : Brazil WC 2014 saw 6 of the starters for Portugal were over the age of 30, including three of the back four, and no one was younger than 26. Bento played until he was 35 so has the penchant to believe in older players. He also doesn’t like to feature young players in primetime. Portugal has a wealth of talented young prodigies that unfortunately get wasted at club and country.

4. Pride & Stubbornness – Even after terrible results Bento fly’s against the wind, being hounded by the media and fans at the closing press conference in Brazil after the early exit, Bento replied I have no intention of resigning. Questioned about his formations and squad selections he said, it is not his fault and looks to blame external sources. I am paraphrasing here, but that was the message. If the expectations were higher, Bento would’ve been ashamed and would’ve quit.

5. Training – Your team is headed to a World Cup in very hot and humid locations. The sensible thing to do would be to acclimatize your team to the environment before the tournament. Nope, Bento went for some friendlies in the US, mostly in the North East, meanwhile Northern Euro teams like Belgium, Switzerland, and of course Germany performed well in the heat.

6. Dead ball preparation/Set pieces Offence and Defence – In an extremely tough tournament with narrow decisions, most high level teams have worked out some ingenious plays both to defend and attack. Yet the NT has been weak for years on defending set pieces, and also generating goals. If it is such a deciding factor, why does the NT look so disorganized? We have lost countless BIG GAMES from the inability to win or defend the dead ball. A reasonable man would make this his priority.

7. Failing to adapt quickly in-game/Game time decisions – Joao Perreira is being over-run on the right, Veloso and Mereiles, are losing their markers in midfield because of the other team’s ability or your formation. Yet the status quo is kept to the breaking point, and even though the NT is in a draw or are losing, there are no changes to the formation or player substitutions made until the dying moments of a game.

8. Restraint of players/Leading by Example – Bento’s previous World Cup experience was playing for the NT in 2002 and crashed out when Portugal exited in the first round. He also was suspended for 5 months after a bust-up with the Referee in that tournament. Did Bento learn from his experience? Nope, he accused a Ref of bias after the Germany game in Brazil. His example leads to players surrounding the game officials, and taking idiotic red cards, as Pepe did in that Germany game, none of which is beneficial going forward.

9. The FPF earpiece – It is common knowledge in any previous Manager hiring that the FPF have demanded a Portuguese speaking Manager so that they can communicate with them. No foreign tongue is welcome, because the FPF wants to influence the Manager. Bento has a very strong relationship with his handlers, and even after poor results, they have no interest in firing him. Now only if Benfica & Porto loved their own that much.

10. Not playing a true Defensive Mid/Trinco – Bento prefers defence by committee so employs 3 in the middle that are considered more box to box midfielders in Veloso, Meireles, and Moutinho. His thinking is more offensive in its approach as all 3 create more than they defend. With Joao Perreira on the wing in the Neverback position this is a catastrophic mistake, one that Bento has over-played in his tenure as NT Manager. Quieroz was wise to this flaw in the 4-3-3 so deployed Pepe & Meira as DM’s which led to the NT not surrendering a goal in the qualifying round in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. So with William Carvalho hitting the stage and being widely proclaimed as the best young DM in Europe, the thought was that he was going to get a big role. He did, unfortunately it was in warm-up games. Until injury struck Crvalho was rooted to the bench.

That concludes my Top 10 list of reasons for Bento being fired, but in contrast it is not like Bento hasn’t accomplished anything in his time as Portuguese National Team Manager. He did reach the semi-finals of the Euro Tournament in 2012, although some would argue it was the players doing.

He also defeated World Cup champions Spain 4–0 in Lisbon, imposing the largest defeat to its Iberian neighbours in our history (albeit in a friendly).

In a recent article for Entrepeneur.com, they listed the 5 Signs It’s Time to Fire a Company Manager they were:

1. Decisions are being made based on politics, not productivity.
2. Communication is one-way.
3. Employee complaints are on the rise.
4. The manager abuses his or her power.
5. Employees are being thrown under the bus.

I believe I checked off most of that list, especially when you view fans as employees. Even if you don’t the least you would consider fans, is as stakeholders in the business of football. If a CEO loses his stockholders trust on Wall Street, he is terminated.

Sadly that is not the case in the world of football.

The report the vast majority of Portuguese fans want to read would go somewhat like this:

“In a very brief statement: The FPF has officially announced that Paulo Bento has been sacked as manager.”

So what is your view?
Would you like to see Paulo Bento fired?
What has he done that has upset you?
If not, then what is your reasoning for keeping him at the helm?

Written by Orlando Mac (@OrlandoMaxxx)

Opinion: 3 Reasons to Nurture Portuguese Talent

Soon after Portugal’s fine showing at last summer’s U-20 World Cup, Nelson Oliveira publically stated that Portuguese clubs need to focus more on youth, rather than on foreign imports. This point is a very important and relevant one in Portugal at the moment. Benfica have been accused of buying their success from Argentina; Braga from Brazil. While at one time or another there are Portuguese is the starting eleven for the top four in Portugal, the majority of the players on the pitch are non-Portuguese. This has been cause for concern, especially since Sporting, Benfica, and Porto have three of the best youth academies in Europe, and even the world. Those talented players, who are mostly Portuguese, are not receiving the playing time once they graduate from the academy. Instead, they look abroad for opportunities, which has ruined many a young player’s career. There are three reasons for the support of these Portuguese players that will be highlighted here.

Sporting Lisbon U19 5-1 Liverpool U19

In the 2011-2012 edition of the Nextgen Series, which essentially a U-19 Champions League, Sporting Lisbon have been destroying all opposition in Group 2. The team was pitted against Liverpool, Molde, and Wolfsburg, and has yet to disappoint. Sporting is now first in the group with 16 points and has scored more than any other team in the competition. Last week, Sporting took on Liverpool in their final match of the group. The Portuguese team proceeded to decimate their English opposition, winning 5-1. Betinho picked up two goals (one of them a spectacular bicycle-kick), while Filipe Chaby, Gael Etock, and Edgar Ie all scored a goal apiece. The performance was that of complete domination by the Lions, which brings up the question of how to harness this talent. These players are of arguably the same caliber as those from the past. For Portuguese clubs to be successful, they need to incorporate these players into the first team. In theory, if these players graduate into the first team, Sporting Lisbon have the capability of being better than Liverpool. This will only happen if clubs in Portugal change their ways. The Sporting Lisbon Academy has been known to produce some of the world’s finest players in Nani, Ronaldo, and Luis Figo, and it appears that that trend will continue. The test will come when they graduate from the academy.

Portugal’s showing at the 2011 U-20 World Cup

Many were blown away when Portugal reached the final of the U-20 World Cup last summer, defeating the likes of France and Argentina in the process. Nelson Oliveira emerged as one of the stars of the tournament. His four goals won him the award for second-best player of the tournament. Mika, Portugal’s goalkeeper, won the best goalkeeper of the tournament also. The Portuguese players put in impressive performance after impressive performance, and won many plaudits accordingly. Of the 21 Portuguese players, 16 of them were plying their trade in Portugal at the start of the tournament. That’s a decent number: a little over three-quarters. Danilo Pereira, Mario Rui, Pele, and Sana, who all starred for the team during the tournament, played overseas. Three of the players (Danilo, Sana, and Mario Rui) were all bought from Benfica following the expiration of their contracts. Many of these players have gone on to enjoy a successful season this term, many of them on loan abroad from a Portuguese team.

For the sake of the Portuguese National Team

Portugal don arguably three of the finest youth academies in the world, so it makes sense that they should be used to their fullest to nurture young Portuguese talents for the future. What would have happened if Quaresma, Figo, or Nani had left the academy to go to, let’s say, Chelsea. Their careers would most likely have been ruined. Let me remind you of a certain player called Fabio Paim. Paim was touted to be the next Ronaldo when he broke on the youth scene at Sporting half a decade ago. When Chelsea came calling with a lucrative offer, Paim pounced. Now, Paim is playing in the Angolan League. The talent that was evident has all but vanished. The only way that the Portuguese National Team will flourish is if the young stars are encouraged to stay in the country. If the coaches give the youngsters a first-team role, they will be encouraged to stay, and thus the profile of soccer in the country will be raised. When looking at the Spanish league, one will notice the large amount of Spanish players in the teams’ starting elevens. This has been a contributing factor to Spain’s rise to European and international domination. The big teams in Spain use, and rely on, Spanish players. In Germany, the story is the same.



The Portuguese National Teams is arguably flourishing more now than in recent history, with the U-20 team reaching the final of the World Cup, and the Senior team romping at every given opportunity. While the team has been successful as of late, the only way that the success can be built upon is if young Portuguese players are given opportunities in the league, instead of abroad. Then, and only then, the Portuguese National team will truly be a world-class team.