Reading Football Club got all Iberian when scouting for Paul Clement’s successor in December, eventually hiring Portuguese coach Jose Gomes - but only after countryman Luis Castro turned down a move to Berkshire.
As a player, Castro spent much of his time in the lower tiers of Portuguese football and worked his way up from that end of the game as a coach (sound familiar?). When Reading were looking for a new boss, his Vitoria Guimaraes team were battling Gomes’ Rio Ave for a spot in the Europa League.
In fact, Vitoria were fifth in the table, three points above sixth-placed Rio when Gomes signed. If he were to have rejected us too, no doubt we would now have the boss of seventh-placed Belenenses, Nuno Oliveira, in charge.
It was Vitoria who went on to snatch the Europa League spot which was such a boost to Castro’s reputation that he recently took over Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk. Their former manager, Paulo Fonseca, has just been appointed at Roma - and the call of the Champions League proved harder to turn down than the call of Tuesday night defeats at Barnsley.
However, the 57-year-old has insisted that he opted to stay in Portugal last December out of loyalty to Guimaraes, rather than an ingrained fear that he wouldn’t be able to get Mo Barrow to track back.
Speaking to O Jogo [via Sports Witness], Castro said: “It wasn’t the best time to leave.
“And I didn’t want to interrupt the bond with Vitoria, although a lot of people didn’t understand that. I didn’t regret at all having stayed, because I acted in consciousness, and Vitoria eventually reached the Europa League and [our] fifth-place goal.”
So what type of man is Castro? Reading fans would have been in store for a confident, considered speaker - perhaps a bit stubborn - according to this glimpse into his personality.
“People confuse information with knowledge,” he noted in the interview. “I read the books I want, watch the TV shows I want, watch the movies I want, and sit with whoever I want.
“It’s not easy to sell me things. I look for the information I want, think about it a lot, and try to turn it into knowledge. There are many people who think information is to know and, to that extent, talk a lot about their subjects.
“This is where the problem lies. How do you create an opinion without knowing something in depth? There should be more knowledge; everything is very light, for immediate consumption. All football players, without exception, should take better care of football.”
In terms of playing style, Vitoria generally went out in a 4-5-1 formation and Castro wants to play attacking football in Ukraine, perhaps easier given his side will be the overwhelming favourites in every game they play.
He told the club website: “I want it to be high-quality, attacking, and with lots of scoring chances. We should play safely in defensive terms, but to have the scoring objective all the time.
“And we definitely need our fans to be happy. So that people watch our games in Europe and understand that Shakhtar are getting better and stronger each time, that they are ready to play in the international arena. This is not an easy task, but I know the players’ attributes and I understand that it’s always possible to get better.”
Reading ended up with Gomes and, as fans, we seem very happy with that. It’s safe to assume a man of Castro’s accumen would have done as good a job if he had made the move instead. Maybe Portugal Day was written in the stars, after all.