In an astonishing turn of events, Benfica's longest-serving post-war coach and the man who has just guided the Eagles to their first back-to-back championship triumph in over three decades, Jorge Jesus, has left the club for fierce cross-town rivals Sporting. 

At least that's what every Portuguese media outlet is reporting, although nothing has yet been confirmed officially. 

Jesus, a former Sporting player, is reported to have been lured by a €6million/season salary over three years, while Vitória Guimarães coach Rui Vitória is set to take over at Benfica. 

Rumours had been rumbling for several weeks that the Benfica coach could make the short 1-kilometre trip across to the other side of Lisbon's Segunda Circular (ring-road), but most observers of Portuguese football put it down to little more than silly season speculation. 

It appears that Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira was also convinced Sporting would not have the financial capacity to prise JJ away from the Estádio da Luz. That is the only plausible explanation for offering the 60-year-old coach a new contract in which his salary was significantly reduced. With FC Porto, who have long been linked with a swoop for Jesus, having confirmed that Spanish coach Julen Lopetegui would remain at the Dragons, Vieira no doubt thought Jesus would eventually put pen to paper on a new more modest deal. 

African backing

However, Sporting came up with a huge offer in financial terms, having secured funds from backers from Angola (a former Portuguese colony with strong links to Portugal) and Equitorial Guinea. According to these reports, Jorge Jesus has the possibility of earning €18 million in three years at the Alvalade. 

Beyond the financial considerations, the coach made several demands that president Bruno de Carvalho accepted, namely that he will oversee the whole football structure of the club, and crucially that none of Sporting's best players will leave this summer: Rui Patrício, William Carvalho, André Carrillo, João Mário and Islam Slimani provide a solid basis on which to construct the team. 

Given Jesus's system of play in which the holding midfielder is arguably the team's key player, it is especially vital that William stays. The player himself is likely to be more willing to remain at Sporting given the way Jesus improved the likes of Javi Garcia, Nemanja Matic and Enzo Pérez, facilitating huge-money transfers further down the line. 

Academy conundrum

On the other side of the coin, Sporting have long been known for fielding players produced at their famed Alcochete academy, and Jesus's reluctance to put his faith in Portuguese youngsters was his biggest criticism during his Benfica years. How will these two opposing philosophies be conciliated?

Another strong motivation for Jesus, who never tires of championing his own coaching merits, will be to try and prove that Benfica won chiefly because of him, and not the club structure, and he can do a similar job in the green half of the city. Should he lead Sporting to championship success, he will go down in history as one of the greatest ever Portuguese coaches. 

As for Benfica, the early indications are that Luís Filipe Vieira will be facing a backlash for letting Jesus go. The coach has revolutionised Benfica over his six years at the club, winning 3 Primeira Liga titles, 10 trophies in total, and enabling a series of transfer windfalls to flow into the club's coffers, despite losing his best players year after year. 

New man, new philosophy at the Luz? 

However, the president has constantly said he wants Benfica to shift its focus as a club to include more home-grown players, and given the success of Rui Vitória in that department at Vitória Guimarães, and the brilliant talents recently produced at the Seixal Academy, Vieria may yet have the last laugh. 

Vitória trained Benfica's youth squad earlier in his coaching career. He accepted the Vitória Guimarães job despite the club being in a precarious position from the financial point of view, having to rely on youth products and players plucked from the lower leagues. 

Under these conditions he has enjoyed tremendous success, keeping the northerners near the top of the table and in 2013 leading the team to its first major trophy, winning the Portuguese Cup, ironically beating Benfica in the final. 

The season has only just finished but given this backdrop the 2015/16 season promises to make for fascinating viewing in Portugal. 

By Tom Kundert 

 

Comments (12)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Of course there are upset people anytime a key figure switches to a rival. The part that no one has answered is why this investor is giving 18million contract + a rumored 5million signing bonus, and the financial backing to not sell players when...

Of course there are upset people anytime a key figure switches to a rival. The part that no one has answered is why this investor is giving 18million contract + a rumored 5million signing bonus, and the financial backing to not sell players when for all intentions Sporting was running a foul of fair play by UEFA and could barely afford real grass two seasons ago. I've heard rumors that there's been a back door deal to give a large amount of ownership of the club away in return for this cash. Something doesn't add up. This is great news for Sporting but I think their fan base (like most other people) don't truly know what the club has given for this cash.

The last items I'll highlight is that the current Sporting squad is one that can fight with Braga for the 3rd CL spot. While JJ could improve the team, from a squad standpoint they are still not at the level of Benfica and Porto. So unless there are some additional investments, I think people could be setting unrealistic expectations on JJ.

As for Rui Vitoria. I've been a fan of him for sometime now. The negative will be his lack of experience in Europe but he will know our liga. JJ was ranked as one of the top 10 most paid managers in Europe not too long ago. So freeing up that salary for squad will be good for us. Hopefully that will give our new manager the ability to keep more players or sign another top player. Really looking forward to the preseason now.

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There's no mention of Marco Silva anywhere in this article and to me that's a shame. He's been a dependable coach who guided the team to a second place finish two seasons ago and a respectable third this season, despite the club's relatively...

There's no mention of Marco Silva anywhere in this article and to me that's a shame. He's been a dependable coach who guided the team to a second place finish two seasons ago and a respectable third this season, despite the club's relatively modest resources.

I just don't think this is a wise choice at all. Jesus becomes one of the most well-paid managers in the world at a club that is nowhere near being one of the wealthiest. And what happens if/when these supposed African investors pull their support, when Jesus still ends up in second or third place with Sporting? Does Sporting then go chase after Marco Silva?

Maybe Jesus will surprise me and be that missing piece of the puzzle that Sporting need to win a championship. But if these investors and the club truly wanted to improve the team, why wouldn't they just use this money to upgrade the squad? This option would make even more sense when you consider that Sporting already have a very good manager in place with Marco Silva.

Yes, Jesus is coming off of a very good season, but lets also not forget that it wasn't that long ago that many Benfiquistas were calling for his head.

This all seems very short-sighted to me on Sporting's part.

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Whoa, let's take a look at a few things.

First: "Should he lead Sporting to championship success, he will go down in history as one of the greatest ever Portuguese coaches."

Tom, you and this site are awesome, but let's not get ahead of...

Whoa, let's take a look at a few things.

First: "Should he lead Sporting to championship success, he will go down in history as one of the greatest ever Portuguese coaches."

Tom, you and this site are awesome, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. I believe that's the Sportinguista inside of you getting pumped, but a coach who has gone 3 for 7 (including his year at Braga as they had a good team) in Portuguese titles and a history of suckage in Europe can never be included in the discussion of "greatest Portuguese coaches".

JJ is big on shameless self-promotion, and most people, for some odd reason, gobble it up. He's a good coach, no question, but a lot of credit, he takes from LFV and Benfica itself. The reality is, if he didn't bring moderate success to the "Portuguese darling" club, he would never be as overinflated as he is.

One thing that makes me skeptical of this deal is this little equation: $6 million + not selling any players = bankrupted Sporting.
I wonder how Sportinguista fans feel about that little detail. He wasn't worth the $4 million he got in Benfica but suddenly he's woth 6 now? Doesn't make sense. And before you take a dig at me Benfa fans, consider that LFV himself wanted to reduce JJ's wages, specifically because of his European failure and the loss of European $$ the club gets for playing extra games.

Still, as a fan of the league in general, this is exciting and will definitely add some drama to the league. I think Rui Vitoria is a very good coach, been saying it for a long time. Curious to see how he will do with some more refined players at his disposal. Lopetegui better learn from his mistakes and capitalize on this potetial shuffle to get Porto back into it's champion status. And he'd better stop buying from Spain, though I don't see that as a likely move, unfortunately.

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5 stars for the shock factor!! This is the biggest plot twist since Darth Vader told Luke "I am your father."

Sensational!

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Ivo,

2 seasons ago was Leonardo Jardim's fine work. But aside from that, I agree with you; Marco Silva is a very promising coach. I honestly think Sporting would be better served betting on him in the long run. His results may not have been...

Ivo,

2 seasons ago was Leonardo Jardim's fine work. But aside from that, I agree with you; Marco Silva is a very promising coach. I honestly think Sporting would be better served betting on him in the long run. His results may not have been as clinical as Jardim the previous season, but Sporting also played a much prettier type of football and had a never say die attitude under him. Look at the cup final this weekend and their insane game against Schalke late last year.

I think a lot of people are placing a lot of pressure on JJ in this situation and he's simply not a miracle worker as he loves to claim he is. Benfica's structure, finances and scouting is much more developed at this point. JJ will have to do something he despises: bet on Portuguese talent. Not to mention the 2 massive egos of JJ and BdC. It will be a hell of a show to watch!

There is a troubling pattern emerging here though, and I think it is worth bringing up (if of course, the rumours of JJ are confirmed):

Date of Bruno de Carvalho's appointment as Sporting President: March 2013

Coaches under Bruno de Carvalho in 2 years:

Jesualdo Ferreira
Leonardo Jardim
Marco Silva
Jorge Jesus?

Not a good sign. I'm seeing an Olympiacos pattern here.

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Gil Vicente would have won the title last season with the same amount of help from the officials.

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What?!!! This must be a dream.

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

well one thing is for sure..jorge jesus will be next coach in sporting, that has been already confirmed.
what i can´t understand it´s the position of benfic´s president, i mean..the man won all he could , made a great job over there and they come...

well one thing is for sure..jorge jesus will be next coach in sporting, that has been already confirmed.
what i can´t understand it´s the position of benfic´s president, i mean..the man won all he could , made a great job over there and they come up with salary reduction??
football it´s like a job if the company it´s trying to make cuts and if affects the wallet of the worker he is free to leave and search for another job!
i really hope things go well for him anyway supporters of both clubs might not understand this but only future will tell if this was the right choice..

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It's simple, as of the start of 2015, Jesus was the 10th most paid manager in Europe. Decided to look up the last report:
http://www.sportyghost.com/10-highest-paid-football-managers-2014-2015/

Based on the figures, congrats on Sporting moving...

It's simple, as of the start of 2015, Jesus was the 10th most paid manager in Europe. Decided to look up the last report:
http://www.sportyghost.com/10-highest-paid-football-managers-2014-2015/

Based on the figures, congrats on Sporting moving Jesus somewhere between 8th (take away national teams) and he's the 7th best paid club manager in the world. Last time I checked these top managers are expected to fight for Champions league glory and titles in the worlds most challenging leagues. Sporting hiring AVB would have been cheaper than want they were paying for Jesus to just put it into perspective.

At the end of the day I'm happy that we didn't beat Sporting out on salary because that means a weaker club/squad that we can afford. Those extra millions is another potential Nico or Salvio for Benfica. I'm grateful for the memories and titles Jesus brought but in no way do I want our club breaking spending records on their management staff for a manager that can win a domestic liga 50% of the time and only once in 6 years made it out of the CL group stage. He's a great manager but I look forward to seeing who we get next.

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@ John,

1/6 getting to the knockout stages of the Champions league

0/3 in Europa League semi-finals and finals

These are not examples of "winning everything he could" for Benfica. At the end of the day, Benfica have to judge return on...

@ John,

1/6 getting to the knockout stages of the Champions league

0/3 in Europa League semi-finals and finals

These are not examples of "winning everything he could" for Benfica. At the end of the day, Benfica have to judge return on investment and cannot continue to depend on the same set-up. By getting new blood and saving money, they might actually challenge for even more next season when you consider how mediocre JJ is in Europe.

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I was waiting for official conformation and just seen Sporting confirm Jorge Jesus' arrival. Wowwwwww! I'm speechless right now...This is earth moving stuff lol. I'm honestly not sure what to make of this. But if Jorge Jesus really wanted to come...

I was waiting for official conformation and just seen Sporting confirm Jorge Jesus' arrival. Wowwwwww! I'm speechless right now...This is earth moving stuff lol. I'm honestly not sure what to make of this. But if Jorge Jesus really wanted to come to Sporting to coach the club of his heart well then he is welcome. But he will need to prove it with dedication and action. There's definitely the potential for this to be a powerful union Jesus is a fighter and a strong character, Bruno is a strong character. They are both hungry to win so it could actually be amazing. I really don't know what to think though, but I hope Jesus is genuine and I hope it works really well for Sporting and Portugal! There are very good Portuguese players here, hopefully this can raise them to an even higher level and hopefully the team as a whole is galvanized through this. Exciting times ahead!

Daniel SCP/Bubba Zanetti this brings me back to your comment about him from monthss ago haha when you brought up Jesus' past how he might be remembering his roots when he stood up for us in the CL controversy vs Schalke. Crazy how things have developed!

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Jorge Jesus is a great man. They shouldn't let him go.

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