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)

Who should make the Portuguese team for Euro 2012: Goalkeepers


As is the case before any major tournament, a number of players are vying for a limited amount of spots for their respective national teams. The Portuguese team is no different. Many Portuguese players are enjoying stellar seasons for their clubs, and are certainly hoping for a call to represent their country at this summer’s Euro 2012. We’ll break down these candidates position-by-position, in an effort to predict how Paulo Bento will choose the final squad. First up is the goalkeepers.

Goalkeepers

Definites: Rui Patricio (Sporting)

Maybes: Eduardo (Benfica), Beto (CFR Cluj), Quim (Braga)

Outsiders: Ricardo (Vitoria Setubal), Hugo Ventura (Olhanense), Daniel Fernandes (Twente)

 

The goalkeeping position is rarely a problem for the Portuguese team. There has always seemed to be a strong goalkeeper at the start of every major tournament. For the 2002 World Cup, Vitor Baia was the undisputed choice. For Euro 2004, the 2006 World Cup, and Euro 2008, Ricardo was between the sticks, and for the 2010 World Cup, Eduardo was first-choice. These keepers certainly met all expectations, and have established the fact that the goalkeeping position is consistently one of the strongest on the Portuguese team.

This time around, Rui Patricio is our man. A major part of Sporting’s success in the Europa League this season is down to his heroics in goal. It’s not just for Sporting, however. Patricio has emulated his club form on a national stage for Portugal. Our former stalwart is Eduardo. Arguably just as talented as before, a lack of playing time has been Eduardo’s main problem. After lackluster performances last season for Genoa, Eduardo was shipped off to Benfica for a season-long loan. Unable to dislodge Artur Moraes as first choice, Eduardo has been warming the bench ever since joining the club. Although his playing time has been scarce, his proven ability in the past will most likely win him a place on the team at Euro 2012. Another goalkeeper that has been loaned this season is Beto. Beto was the standout performer in the 2008-2009 season for newly-promoted Leixoes. His performances caught the eye of Porto, who snapped him up for a nominal fee. Despite possessing proven talent, Beto has never earned a starting spot over first-choice Helton. This season, in search for regular playing time, Beto was loaned to Romanian side CFR Cluj. Since then, he has played regularly, and a call-up to Euro 2012 may not be too unrealistic. Braga has continued to establish itself as one of Portugal’s top teams, and right at the heart of it all is Quim. Formerly the undisputed first-choice at Benfica, and even earlier at Braga, Quim has played a pivotal role in Braga’s surge to third-place this season. Although he has amassed 32 caps for the Seleccao, he has only appeared once at a major tournament. His performances this season show that he still has it, even at 36, but will that be enough for Paulo Bento? The outsiders looking in at a spot at Euro 2012 with Portugal are Daniel Fernandes, Ricardo, and Hugo Ventura. None of the three have appeared very much, if at all for Twente, Vitoria Setubal, and Olhanense respectively, and a spot on the Portuguese bus to Euro 2012 looks unlikely.

 

Probable bus-riders: Rui Patricio, Eduardo, Beto

 

Name

Club

Age

League Apps

Cup

Apps

Continental

Apps

Total

Apps

Rui Patricio Sporting

24

25

5

12

42

Eduardo Benfica

29

0

8

0

8

Beto Cluj

29

21

0

0

21

Quim Braga

36

26

2

10

38

Ricardo Setubal

36

3

3

0

6

Daniel Fernandes Twente

28

0

0

0

0

Hugo Ventura Olhanense

24

0

0

0

0

Who Should Bento Call Up?


With the list of Portuguese players for the Portugal-Spain friendly match being released today, I thought I would take a stab at making a call-up list of my own. Don’t expect this to be the same as the one you will see today. For my list, I will call up 23, Paulo Bento may choose to call up less.

Goalkeepers: Eduardo, Beto, Rui Patricio
Defenders: Bosingwa, Bruno Alves, Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Rolando, Silvio
Midfielders: Joao Moutinho, Ruben Micael, Raul Meireles, Tiago, Carlos Martins, Joao Ribeiro
Forwards: Nani, Ronaldo, Varela, Orlando Sa, Hugo Almeida, Helder Postiga, Danny

Explanations

Goalkeepers:

Eduardo is by-far Portugal’s number one choice goalkeeper. Even though he isn’t enjoying the greatest of seasons, he has still looked solid more often than not. Beto, of FC Porto, has not played very much at all this season, so he will be lucky to even make the bench. Rui Patricio, on the other hand, has played and played and played. The 22 year-old ‘keeper has been in good form this season. He has deserved a debut for some time now, and this might be the game for Bento to give it to him.

Defenders:

You simply can’t get better than the CarvalhoPepe duo. They have been solid at Real Madrid, and they showed the same against Denmark and Iceland last month. Nuno Andre Coelho deserves a mention. He has been completely revitalized this season after making the move from Porto to Sporting this summer. He has formed a solid partnership with fellow Portuguese, Daniel Carrico. With Sporting’s latest defensive record as bad as it is, I do not feel that these two players are currently worthy of a call-up. Carrico has, for some time now, shown that he is a rock defensively, so a call-up in the near future should be expected. On the other hand, Bruno Alves has continued his good form at Porto to his new club, Zenit. The Russian club is very close to winning the league, after some impressive performances, which Alves has had a hand in. Chelsea right-back Bosingwa has made an impressive return from a year-long injury. The former Porto man had to endure the agony of missing the World Cup, but he has returned as good as when he left. I foresee him in the starting eleven. Rolando and Silvio have been bright points in the Liga Zon Sagres this season. Silvio has been an absolute break-through, cementing a place in the starting line-up for SC Braga. Rolando has also broken-through, forging a partnership with fellow center-back, Maicon. Last, but certainly not least, Fabio Coentrao. Fabio has been an absolute revelation this season for a surprising league struggling Benfica. As stated in a previous article, he has gone from a hot prospect to a worldwide-ceveted player. His current suitors? Barcelona, AC Milan, Liverpool, and Manchester City, just to name a few. Joao Pereira barely missed the list, mainly due to the fact that there were too many players. Pereira showed us during Portugal’s games against Iceland and Denmark that he knows what he is doing when it comes to playing right-back.

Midfielders:

The Joao Moutinho that we know and love is back. Just watching him buzz around the pitch during the Iceland and Denmark game was enough to make you smile. Moutinho has surprisingly fit in perfectly at Porto. Andre Vilas Boas knows how to utilize him to his fullest, and it appears that Paulo Bento does too. Ruben Micael, also on the Porto team, has, for some time, deserved his debut. After his stellar performances for Nacional last season, he earned a switch to league giants, FC Porto, where he has since thrived. Like Coentrao, he has always been a diamond; we just had to polish him. Carlos Martins‘s talent, however, has been evident for quite a while. The Seleccao’s last two qualifiers really gave Martins an opportunity to show his ability. His four assists against Lyon in the champions league will most likely help his cause. Toulouse midfielder Paulo Machado has lit up the Ligue 1 this season. His assists and generally stellar play was enough to earn him a call for the Seleccao’s last two games. Even though he didn’t play, we should expect to see him more. I do not believe, however, that he is worthy for a call-up against Spain. Toulouse have been in a bad run of form lately, which is the main reason I have left him off the list. Besiktas winger Ricardo Quaresma, who has been in scintillating form this season, also deserves a mention. Quaresma is currently nearly recovered from an injury, but before his injury, he put in some magical performances. My readers may recall the video that I posted earlier in the season. That video just about sums up how amazing he has been. Due to the fact that he is still not quite recovered,  I left him off the list. Raul Meireles is the glue that holds the team together. The former Porto man has fit in nicely at Liverpool in the much different Premier League. He always seems to  step up when the team needs him. Tiago has been in good form this season for Atletico Madrid. Most notably, he scored late in the game for Atletico to seal their win over Rosenborg. Not only did he score, but he dribbled through three players before unleashing an unstoppable shot. Tiago definitely gets my nod. Next up is Joao Ribeiro. The Vitoria Guimaraes midfielder has been an integral part in their unstoppable form this season. He was great for Academia last season, but this season he has been even better. Hewell deserves his call-up. Last on the list is Tiago Targino. Targino was having a spectacular season last season, but an injury kept him on the sidelines until recently. On his return from injury, he came off the bench to score two , which helped Vitoria Guimaraes on their way against Sporting. The Guimaraes man will most likely not get the nod, but if he keeps his form up, the call will happen.

Forwards:

Nani has been in great form this season for Manchester United. He has also established a place in the Portugal starting eleven, after recently coming of age. Nani is a given in all call-ups. Now, Ronaldo…What can I say? He has been great this season. He will always be called up. Varela has been one of the top players in the Liga Zon Sagres this season, forging a frightening partnership with Hulk. These two players have been an integral part of Porto’s success. I would really like to see what Varela can do for the national team. Orlando Sa, who is currently on loan at Nacional from Porto has been in solid form this season.  He hasn’t scored very much, but when he has, they have been important goals, most notably his header against Benfica earlier in the season. Sa showed us what he can do during the Spain-Portugal U21 game in late 2008, when he scored a hat-trick. Maybe Paulo Bento is hoping for more of the same. Werder Bremen striker Hugo Almeida also deserves a call-up. He has been in superb form for Bremen this season, and has attracted the interest of Valencia. Helder Postiga has found the form that he had at Porto. This is most likely due to Paulo Sergio’s influence, and hopefully he can bring the form back to the Seleccao. Zenit forward Danny has been in his usual superb form this season, so a call-up would be greatly deserved.