With less than three months in Brazil, the Portuguese Abel Ferreira will face this Saturday he until now greatest challenge of his short career as a coach. After eliminating River Plate, he will lead Palmeiras against Santos in the final of the Copa Libertadores.
Ferreira, aged 42, is one of the main revelations of the current generation of young European coaches, and this Saturday he will have the opportunity to win his first important title from the bench at the Maracaná Stadium a year after his compatriot Jorge Jesus did it with Flamengo.
Vanderlei Luxemburg, former Brazilian coach and former Real Madrid coach, arrived at Palmeiras in November to replace him. In just three months he has transformed the dynamics of the São Paulo team until taking it to the finals of the Libertadores and the Copa do Brasil, that will dispute in February before the Guild.
For the first decision, Ferreira promised to maintain his usual strategy: to use maximum force, with the psychological strength of the players and under the premise “win or win.”
“The rules of the game are clear: either you win or you win. I did not come here on vacation. I came here to work and win with the club,” he announced at his first press conference in early November.
Ferreira began his discreet soccer career in 1997 as a defender for Penafiel and he finished it in 2011, before he turned 30, at Sporting Lisbon, the same club in whose lower categories he began his career as a coach.
In 2017, he went to the Braga bank and two years later he signed with the Greek PAOK, which he left at the end of last year to start his adventure in Brazil.
On more than one occasion, the coach stated that he defines himself as a person of convictions who likes to follow his instincts.
However, despite the results achieved in his short time at Palmeiras, in addition to the place for the two finals, Ferreira admits that he has a long way to go.
To preserve the high performance of his squad, quite worn out due to the high sequence of matches, the Portuguese is committed to the psychological recovery of the players, which he considers as important as physical.
“We have to ask ourselves what brought us here. We need to continue doing the same things and the same routine. We have to redouble our focus and concentration, put aside everything that happens around and focus on work,” he said this week.
He added that, when he arrived at Palmeiras, he did not promise “titles”, but “a qualified job and a winning mentality.”
“That is what I commit to before my players and that is what we are going to do, wherever or against anyone,” he emphasized.
Its premise is to learn from past experiences, dedicate 24 hours to digest a defeat or celebrate a victory, and then turn all efforts towards the next matches on the calendar..
In addition to taking care of the emotional level of his players, Ferreira also pays special attention to the youngest.
With a more open style, although without ever forgetting defensive rigor, the Portuguese coach permanently imposes challenges on his team. And precisely because of this he achieved points and goals records when he was in charge of Braga, a feat that he hopes to repeat with Palmeiras.
“The only way to gain experience is like this: living and going through situations like that,” said Ferreira after eliminating River Plate and securing the pass for the final of the Libertadores.