Official: Sérgio Conceição leaves FC Porto – loose cannon, brilliant coach… or both?

After weeks of speculation, FC Porto have confirmed that the club are parting ways with coach Sérgio Conceição.

Former Porto player Conceição thus ends a seven-year spell as the main man at the Estádio do Dragão and will go down as one of the club’s greatest ever coaches.

New Porto president André Villas-Boas has kept his cards close to his chest as regards the new man in the dugout, with Conceição’s assistant Vítor Bruno said to be among the front-runners. 

Hot-tempered and controversial

Known for his irascible personality, touchline bust-ups and fervent character, Sérgio Conceição’s ability to attract controversy was a constant throughout his tenure at Porto.

A loyal ally of former president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa, the coach was heavily criticised for signing a 4-year contract renewal two days before the presidential elections in April. Viewed as a trump card in the election, Pinto da Costa ended up crushed by AVB in the vote, bringing into question Conceição’s continuation.

His departure was further muddied by an unseemly public fall-out with his assistant Vítor Bruno, with whom he had worked for over 13 years, when it became apparent his subordinate may supplant him as the head coach at Porto. Conceição’s other assistants and his family eviscerated Bruno in the media and on social networks.

Turning water into wine

Nevertheless, nobody can question the commitment and the competence which Conceição put at the service of the club in a difficult era for the Dragons.

Severely limited by financial constraints, forced to work with makeshift squads and having to regularly sell his best players, the Coimbra-born tactician kept Porto competitive throughout his time at the helm.

Records galore

Sérgio Conceição leaves as the Porto coach who has overseen the highest number games (379), and who has obtained the most victories (274).

He is also the coach who has accumulated the most trophies, 11, broken down into 3 championships, 4 Portuguese Cups, 1 League Cup and 3 Super Cups.

Conceição also led Porto to a series of impressive campaigns in Europe, beating Juventus and going toe-to-toe with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona and Arsenal despite those clubs’ budgets dwarfing Porto’s resources.

Italy next?

In addition to his achievements at Porto, Conceição enjoyed success in his previous posts as a coach, climbing up the food chain with fine work carried out at Olhanense, Académica de Coimbra, Braga and Nantes especially.

At 49 years of age, Conceição will certainly be keen on continuing his career, and is often associated with a move to Italy, where he enjoyed tremendous success in his playing days. Watch this space.

By Tom Kundert