As former Brazilian wonderkid Alexandre Pato prepares for his highly anticipated return to European football with Chelsea, Tim Stillman looks back at his wilderness years in his homeland…
After a dizzying succession of injuries and a controversial relationship with Silvio Berlusconi’s daughter, Alexandre Pato returned to Brazil in January 2013. He signed with São Paulo club Corinthians with the intention of rebuilding a career that had once promised so much. The short term aim would have been to rediscover his touch and his fitness with Corinthians and attract European suitors.
This would very much have been in Corinthians’ financial planning when they sanctioned the purchase of the Pato Branco born forward. Whilst ‘Pato’ is indeed Portuguese for ‘duck’, his nomenclature derives from his city of birth. His actual name, Alexandre Rodrigues da Silva, is a string of very popular and widely used Brazilian names, so ‘Pato’ is used to identify him in the same way that Ronaldinho is called ‘Ronaldinho Gaucho’ and the two famous Juninho’s are known as Juninho Paulista (of Middlesbrough fame) and Juninho Pernambucano (who played for Lyon). Continue reading
Charles Pulling profiles Nenê, West Ham’s already forgotten Brazilian from the 2014-15 season…
In 2011, workmen expanding a road in eastern China discovered the mummified remains of a woman dating back 700 years. It was, in terms of the quality of the find and its location one of the most stunning Ming-era discoveries in recent times, a perfectly preserved echo of a long fallen dynasty.
Also in 2011, another altogether less lauded dynasty began in east London. The Allardyce-era at West Ham United may not have stretched over centuries, but for many of the Upton Park faithful the all-too-often turgid, grinding performances may have felt something close to a lifetime in length. And so, with the ominous boos reverberating around Upton Park, ‘Big Sam’ was afforded no reward for securing West Ham’s Premier League status for a third season running and the sun came down on the Allardyce dynasty.
Now, with optimism, a new manager, an impending move to a fancy new stadium and Europa League sojourns West Ham seems a happier, more contented place, despite a ball barely being kicked in anger. But what of the relics of the past four years? What do they tell us?
One of the more rarer finds whilst sifting through the wreckage is the name Nenê, a name that stands out in contrast to the more ‘meat and potato’ Allardyce players such as Nolan or Downing. The name is barely a footnote. Understandable considering the man from São Paulo spent little over three months parking his car at the ‘Academy of Football.’ Continue reading
Stephen Tudor of The Daisy Cutter looks back at Fernando’s difficult first year at Manchester City…
Manchester City’s swoop for Porto’s midfield enforcer Fernando Francisco Reges was long mooted so there was little surprise when he eventually put pen to paper on a £12m switch in the summer of 2014.
What was surprising was finding out how many Blues regularly enjoyed Primeira Liga games, foregoing Sky’s domestic Super Sunday offering or a marquee La Liga or Serie A clash in favour of sourcing Vitória de Guimarães v Porto on a jumpy stream. Let’s be quite clear here: these honest folk did not simply watch a few highlight reels on YouTube. They were ardent aficionados of Portuguese football which, by default, made their assessment of the 25 year old Brazilian worth listening to. They definitely didn’t just watch YouTube clips.
What they told us was here was a serious upgrade on Javi Garcia, City’s popular but slow-as-ketchup midfield anchor who was in the process of being shipped off to Zenit. Fernando was a ferocious combination of Latin nous and bruising endeavour and, considering our FFP restrictions, we had landed ourselves a real bargain. Continue reading
Stephen Tudor of The Daisy Cutter profiles Fernandinho after two hit-and-miss seasons at Manchester City…
Thirty-four million quid was an awful lot of money to be shelling out for a box-to-box midfielder most Manchester City supporters were only familiar with from Champions League highlights, but a need for quality in that role trumped any financial consideration. The recently deposed champions were well-stocked with engine room functionality but fell noticeably short on urgency and general ferreting, someone my dad would call a ‘busy bugger’ with sufficient drive to squiggle over the predictable lines and break into the opposition area while having enough in his legs to make it back when the move broke down. A Yaya Toure, if you like, with the work-rate of a man without a hobby.
Fernandinho was precisely this player and more, and swiftly established himself as a fan’s favourite for playing exactly how we would if handed a shirt.
For his opening campaign he was everywhere, a one-man dynamo who additionally possessed the priceless ability to gauge exactly where a referee’s line in the sand was. Time and again we saw it, an early cruncher earning a warning followed by a series of mini-crunchers that tested the official’s tolerance but rarely resulted in a card. For such a tenacious, scrappy player it really is a gift. Continue reading
The Samba Series returns as Arseblog columnist Tim Stillman profiles Arsenal’s latest Brazilian, Gabriel Paulista…
The career path of Gabriel Armando de Abreu has genuflected the man’s qualities as a defender. Understated, unfussy yet impressive. A quiet and humble family man, Gabriel has spent much of his career under the radar. His rise over the last two years has been stratospheric, but you would never guess from the rugged centre half’s almost expressionless demeanour. Somebody at Arsenal once told me that Wenger was finished with signing Brazilian players. He had had his fingers burned with the likes of André Santos and Denilson. Culturally, countless Brazilians have failed to come to terms with the rigorousness of European sporting culture.
In Brazil, if you’re two hours late, you’re early. This has led to many a Brazilian player on the wrong side of his manager for his time keeping where training is concerned. Shortly after the signing of Gabriel, Wenger told the press that natives of São Paulo, like Gabriel, tend to be more conscientious than their carioca cousins in Rio de Janeiro. It was a slightly disappointing generalisation on the manager’s part, not least when one considers that Santos, Julio Baptista and Denilson, three of his most acute Brazilian disappointments, are paulistas. But within that unintentional cultural stereotype, Wenger’s impression of Gabriel was clear.
For all of the famed stories of bleary eyed Brazilians showing up at training a few pounds overweight, wearing shades to conceal bloodshot eyes, there are a plethora of Brazilian players that have demonstrated great humility and professionalism. Continue reading
In his first piece for TFN, Kammonke Obase-Wotta looks at why Louis Van Gaal is set to succeed as the new Manchester United manager…
As the World Cup comes to a thrilling end, it is time to say goodbye and turn our attentions to one of the most anticipated soap operas of the year; the English Premier league. As last season drew to a close after another drama-filled year, the news of David Moyes’ sacking came as no surprise and was greeted with sighs of relief from the Manchester United faithful.
I can remember vividly the last three games of the season and watching Manchester United’s poor performances. After one of the matches I got involved in a heated discussion about whether or not United would bounce back. I remember saying something like, “Manchester United has probably two to three years to bounce back, based on the fact that Liverpool flopped and were out of the Champions League for over four seasons.” Fast-forward three months and I am rethinking my stance. Why? It is quite simple – because of the virtuoso tactician, Louis Van Gaal. Continue reading
Host Greg Johnson is joined by James Dutton, Hugo Greenhalgh, Simon Smith and Francis Gene-Rowe as the False Nine gang look back the best bits of Brazil 2014.
Was it a worthy final? Where does the tournament sit in World Cup history? Who were the teams and players that caught the eye?
Listen on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/tfns-brazil-2014-world-cup/id784149140?i=316356489&mt=2