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Summer of surprises for Porto

As the UEFA Super Cup approaches, uefa.com examines an eventful summer for European champions FC Porto.

As the UEFA Super Cup approaches, uefa.com examines an eventful summer for European champions FC Porto.

Life has been far from straightforward at the Estádio do Dragão since FC Porto lifted the UEFA Champions League on a heady night in Gelsenkirchen last May.

Mourinho departure
Minutes after masterminding his side's 3-0 victory against AS Monaco FC and collecting his winner's medal, it was clear that coach José Mourinho was not going to dwell on the greatest triumph of his career. Bypassing his team's celebrations to spend time with his family it was not long before he was on a plane to England to seal a deal to take charge of Chelsea FC.

Trio leave
Soon after, the squad he had transformed, inspired and cajoled to UEFA Cup, Champions League and Portuguese league and cup victories was in the process of being broken up; inspirational playmaker Deco agreed a deal with Barcelona while defenders Ricardo Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira followed Mourinho to Chelsea.

Right noises
Nevertheless, with Luigi Del Neri, who worked wonders at AC Chievo Verona, signing a three-year contract as the club's new coach, hopes were high of a smooth transition. The Italian certainly made the right noises on his arrival, declaring: "Being compared with José Mourinho motivates me. Everybody knows that he achieved great things here."

Ill-starred reign
However, his reign proved ill-starred. Amid rumours of disagreements with the board and the players the Italian lasted barely two months in the job, leaving "for personal reasons" not long after the club returned from a tour of the United States.

Sensible appointment
Spaniard Víctor Fernández was next into the coaching hot-seat and seems a sensible appointment. Since parting company with Real Betis Balompié, the 43-year-old had been linked with jobs at Real Madrid CF and Spain and has a wealth of experience after spells with RC Celta de Vigo and Real Zaragoza.

'Great challenge'
He also knows what it takes to succeed in Europe, having led Zaragoza to UEFA Cup Winners' Cup triumph in 1995. "It is a great challenge," Fernández said of the Porto job. "I am going to be in charge of one of the biggest teams in Europe, and the fact that they have won so many titles recently does not scare me."

Squad reinforced
Despite the absence of some of last season's big names, Fernández inherits an squad that has been reinforced by some impressive summer signings, several of whom will hope to be in action against Monaco.

Duo return
Winger Ricardo Quaresma and forward Hélder Postiga have both returned to Portugal after disappointing spells with FC Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur FC and will be in the mood to prove themselves. Postiga, a former Porto player, will hope to settle back quickly. Former SL Benfica and Portugal international midfield player Hugo Leal has also been signed after several seasons abroad.

Diego aims to fill void
Meanwhile, Porto fans will hope that the void left by Deco will be filled by Brazilian international Diego. The 19-year-old arrives in a €7m deal from Santos FC fresh from a superb Copa América campaign, in which he helped his country to the title by scoring in the penalty shoot-out victory against Argentina in the final.

Seitaridis sensation
Perhaps Porto's most impressive signing though is the acquisition of Greece international Giourkas Seitaridis from Panathinaikos FC. The 23-year-old right-back was sensational at UEFA EURO 2004™ as Greece shocked Europe to lift the trophy.

Chance to shine
Other new arrivals include Portuguese Under-21 international midfield player Raul Meireles from Boavista FC and Brazilian Paulo Assunção, who was highly impressive last season for CD Nacional. If the new players and coach shine against Monaco, it will be a perfect start to the post-Mourinho era.