From: Petrovich Date: 1 November 2001 Subject: Re: Angoland lad makes good "Victoria Barrett"
escreveu na mensagem news:firstname.lastname@example.org... > (And Pedro? What's the scoop on Mantorras?) Ah! Mantorras. Quaresma's main rival for 'more pre-season hype' title... What? $20m? ROTFL. OK. If you just want an assessment of the player, just skip to the final paragraphs. But I think the Mantorras story is worthy of a look. Maybe I should write about the peculiar world of sports media in Portugal, so that you can get a clearer picture of one of the most surreal tales of Portuguese football. As you all know, Portugal is a football-mad country and as such there are no less than 3 daily sports papers - 'Record', 'A Bola' e 'O Jogo'. Not surprinsigly, each of them is more or less aligned with one of the 'Big three' - respectively Sporting, Benfica and Porto. Actually, when I write 'sports papers' you could as well read 'football papers' because other sports like handball, basketball or athletics that have a reasonable number followers here, tend to be reduced to one or two out of the 32-or-so tabloid format pages of the paper. Now imagine what is it like to get enough footballing content to fill 32 pages *every day*. Yep. That's right. Pages describing the all details of training sessions, reporting about player's prefered shoe-laces or favourite pets, or simply filled with the most absurd rumours, begin to appear. And in order for the paper to sell such (non-)appealing stuff, the with one or two bombastic covers, usually regarding the big three. Things get worse during the summer break - that's when absolutely nothing happens and the sports papers begin to sell dreams in order to keep ... selling. Pre-season thrashings in friendlies against amateur sides are described as CL finals epics, performances in training give way to contests of praise between the papers - and suddenly the teams and their players are discribed as if they were the best in the world and nothing could stop them! Of course two or three matches into the season and the fever wanes, but until then the papers have survived - and not only that but having made a good profit out of the supporters' hunger for the new season. Mantorras was perhaps the finished product of this delirium. Benfica's last season was the worst in their history, with only a humiliating 6th place to show and out of Europe for the first time since 1960. In order to stop the decline into which the club has slided since the early 90's, the recently elected Benfica board decided (just like their predecessors and their predecessors' predecessors...) that the sorry state of the club was all dued to previous boards' misdeeds - and decided to break up with the past, transferring, releasing or relegating to the 'B' side about 3/4 of last season's squad. To rule over the whole process, they nominated director of football ambitious (and with a dubious reputation) estate developer Luis Filipe Vieira, then president of Alverca (a club he himself had taken from the regional leagues to the top flight). He vowed to build a team that would in his own words "thrash all domestic and European opposition", and thus return Benfica to their so-called "dued dominant place". Where have we heard that before, you might ask. Well, the truth is that such bully talk was like honey for the papers, who filled cover after cover with the sensationalist declarations of Vieira, as loads of Benfica fans hungry for sucess rushed to buy them. Vieira's first deal was bringing in Alverca striker Mantorras. And here's where the surreal part starts. The Angolan was playing at Alverca, owned by Vieira who - guess what - also owned half of the players rights. Surprising, hey? Well, he agreed for the the biggest ever domestic transfer in portuguese football, with Benfica playing around £4 million to Alverca *but* with Vieira keeping his 50% share on the player - demonstrating that there's nothing better than dealing with oneself! He then began promoting Mantorras to symbol of glorious things to come at Benfica, dubbing him 'the new Eusebio' - the last in a long list, but who cares amid the euphoria? To add spice, he declared - even before Mantorras had kick a single ball for Benfica or anyone mentioned the possibility of a transfer! - that Benfica wouldn't sell their star for less than £15 million. As absurd as all this seems he was spot on. The Estadio da Luz stands had a new hero, and the 'new Eusebio' tag was taken literally even before he had worn a Benfica's shirt on a match! On top of it, legions of clubs were said to be looking to lure him, thus justifying Vieira's warning. Just to ensure things, Vieira's final measure was getting rid of all potential internal contenders. To the surprise of everybody he released the excellent Pierre Van Hooijdonk and transferred Joao Tomas, respectively 2nd and 3rd League top scorers last season - a major feat considerang the weaknesses of that Benfica side. Mantorras was to reign all alone in the Benfica front, having the almost unknown (and hence unable to overshadow him) Croation Tomislav Sokota as deputy. Of course the season started and Benfica began finding that opponents were not very keen on getting thrashed - only two wins in their first seven matches. After the first match, a 2-2 draw against lowly Varzim, Vieira staged a press confrence under the hilarious motto "Let Mantorras play!", complaining about the close marking on the Angolan by the opposing defenders . To worse things up Jardel's arrival at rivals Sporting took the lights away a bit from the Angolan. But that didn't prevent Vieira from keeping proclaiming that Mantorras is worth gazillions - with the dued cover by the media. And I wouldn't be surprised if he's behind most of those rumours that make the Angolan as 'almost transferred' to all major european club there is - after all he has a lot to gain on a Mantorras move. So is Mantorras worth all the pre-season hype? No. But again, the problem is the huge - in this case astronomic - expectations put up on him. He has scored 5 goals in 10 league matches, which isn't bad but isn't great either, especially if you consider the fact that Benfica has a much better squad this season, including goal-suppliers like former Porto winger Ljubinko Drulovic and former Sporting and Barcelona winger Simao Sabrosa.. He's certainly no goal-predator - he wastes way too many chances for that; like Quaresma, he tends to overwork his moves, thus wasting precious time with one 'finta' too many, and his style of play is very much based on the physical contact, and thus prone to an awful lot of offensive fouls. In short he's no Jardel and no Niculae, but he's got his qualities and above all, a lot of potential for improvement. He's very strong and has good ball-technique, but quite honestly I think his major qualities are mental, rather than technical . He's a serious worker, much more commited to training and in the pitch than most of the players in his age - his terrible childhood in war-torn Angola, including the loss of both parents, surely accounts for some of his precocious maturity. He also demonstrates genuine unselfishness in play, making him very useful not only by the goals he scores but by the team-mates he frees, as defenders tend to concentrate on him. I belive he would have profited a lot if he had a seasoned striker on his side, like, say, Van Hooijdonk, with whom he could share the pressure, and from whom he could learn, but the politcs of his patron Vieira decided otherwise. But he has a long, long way to go, and using the proverbial phrase, if he's worth $20 million then the world is a scary place... Pedro