AGONA Profile: Miguel Cardoso, AEK’s Portuguese Managerial Risk
Manolo Jimenez has been relieved of his duties as AEK head coach, with Miguel Cardoso replacing him at the helm. The AGONA Profile takes a closer look at his career to date.
Unlike the majority of coaches, Cardoso was never a professional footballer. Born in Portugal on May 28, 1972, the new AEK manager graduated in Physical Education and Sports in 1995 and subsequently earned a Masters in Sports Science three years later.
COACHING CAREER BEGINS, YOUTH COORDINATOR IN UKRAINE
Cardoso’s coaching career began in the youth ranks of FC Porto. After leaving Porto, Cardoso worked as a fitness coach with Belenenses and SC Braga, before he earned the role of assistant coach at Academica de Coimbra in 2007.
Domingos Paciencia - the manager of Academica when Cardoso became assistant coach - would later take him to SC Braga, Sporting Lisbon and Deportivo La Coruna in their eventual six-year partnership. Cardoso made the jump to Ukraine with Shakhtar Donetsk after the 2012/2013 campaign reached its completion.
Cardoso’s main responsibility in Ukraine was overseeing Shakhtar’s successful academy. When joining the Ukrainians, he was immediately handed the position of reserve team manager, while also holding the job of youth coordinator at the same time. In the summer of 2016, he would become Paulo Fonseca’s assistant with the senior side, with Shakhtar winning the domestic championship and the Ukrainian Cup. Cardoso departed Shakhtar in favour of Rio Ave after that particular season ended.
SUCCESS AT RIO AVE
Rio Ave offered Cardoso the opportunity to finally try his hand at being head coach. An opportunity which he grabbed with both hands.
The 2017/2018 season was a roaring success for Cardoso and Rio Ave. Incredibly, Cardoso steered Rio Ave to their best-ever season in the Portuguese top flight, claiming 51 points to finish in fifth position and qualify for the UEFA Europa League. Across all competitions, Cardoso managed 42 Rio Ave matches, gaining 20 victories, seven draws, 15 losses and a points-per-game average of 1.60. Statistics which caught the attention of Nantes FC.
DISAPPOINTMENT WITH NANTES AND CELTA VIGO
Nantes signed Cardoso as their head coach in June 2018. However, the Portuguese manager would only last a matter of months in the job. In what was a terrible start to the 2018/2019 campaign, Nantes only picked up a mere six points in eight Ligue 1 matches, and the club consequently fired Cardoso in October. Cardoso averaged 0.75 points a game with Nantes.
In November 2018, Cardoso hopped across to Spain, penning a deal with Celta Vigo. Unfortunately, he didn’t enjoy a great time there either, only winning three out of 15 matches while losing 10. The 47-year-old left Celta in March.
A NEW START IN ATHENS
Nevertheless, if his maiden press-conference with AEK is anything to go by, Kitrinomavri fans can be positive about the future with Cardoso. When speaking to the media, Cardoso displayed a decent amount of knowledge concerning AEK’s history, mentioning his desire for the players to fight with passion on the pitch. AEK owner, Dimitris Melissanidis, feels Cardoso is the man to take the Athenians to the next level while playing exciting, attractive football. Cardoso generally favours a 4-2-3-1 formation, preferring his teams to play a possession-based, controlled manner of football.
The upcoming transfer window is absolutely vital. Having endured a thoroughly disappointing 2018/2019 season, AEK are in major need of squad strengthening, and it remains to be seen if Melissanidis digs deep enough in his pockets to give Cardoso the players he needs. Cardoso has already spoken with star Argentinian striker Ezequiel Ponce in regards to the 22-year-old remaining on loan from AS Roma for another year.