Who's next for this Sporting life?

In a moment that has been flash-forwarded countless times, Paulo Bento has resigned as Sporting CP manager.

Even though Bento had the backing of club president Eduardo Bettencourt, the pressure was insurmountable and the dreadful performance against Ventspils put the final nail in the coffin.

While many predicted this outcome a long time ago, it will still be strange to see another manager at the helm of the club.

Maybe because ‘stability’ is a word that Portuguese clubs take lightly.

But Bento wasn’t the sole casualty. In a surprising series of events sporting director Pedro Barbosa and board member Ribeiro Telles also submitted their resignation, leaving a huge void to be filled in the upcoming days.

It's usually said that the darkest hour is just before dawn and the Lions will hope so, as interim manager Leonel Pontes couldn’t muster more than a 2-2 draw at Rio Ave on Sunday.

Amid the chaos, Bettencourt vowed to put the club back on track and promised a new manager before the next match in two weeks.

Naturally, there are a lot of rumours about who will become the next Sporting CP manager and The Portugeezer now discusses some of the names that have been mooted in the press.

Manuel Machado

The current CD Nacional manager is one of the frontrunners for the job.  He possesses a solid résumé, having previously coached Guimarães, Académica and Braga with relative success.

His path is somewhat similar to the one of Benfica manager Jorge Jesus, and he may now be handed the opportunity to shine at the highest level.

And if Sporting are looking at realistic Portuguese options, there aren’t many better than Machado. 

However, regardless of how good the odds look right now, I don’t believe he’ll become the next Sporting manager for three reasons.

Firstly, club supporters are demanding immediate results. Because Machado is still viewed as a small club manager and does not enjoy worldwide reputation, he would be given less time to deliver, which would weaken his position from the very beginning.

Secondly, Sporting players desperately need a leader. They are like sheep without a proper shepherd to guide them. While Machado is a good tactician, Sporting need someone with a blunter approach.

And finally, a few years ago Nacional played hard-to-get when negotiating the transfers of Paulo Assunção and Adriano Louzada. The players ended up at FC Porto, angering those at Sporting. Could they get Machado on the cheap this time? Highly unlikely.

André Villas Boas

OK, this one was a bit of a surprise. The former Mourinho assistant started his managerial career three (!) games ago and while he’s enjoyed a positive start, it would be insane to sign him right away.

Just because ‘Il Speciale’ was able to forge a Rocky Balboa-esque rise to fame and glory, it doesn’t mean everyone else can.

Not to mention how ironic it would be to sign a very inexperienced manager when that was one of the arguments against Paulo Bento.

Co Adriaanse

The Portugeezer's choice. Dutch tactician Co Adriaanse would be the right person to steer the club forward.

He obviously knows the league after guiding FC Porto to a championship; he’s bold – he used to play in an unusual 3-3-4 gung-ho formation; and he’s able to tame big egos - Ricardo Quaresma performed quite well under his tutelage!

Adriaanse is also not afraid of throwing youngsters into the field, which would fit with the club policy of nurturing players through its renowned academy.

He’s currently without a club (having left Red Bull Salzburg after winning the Austrian league) and would instantly provide what the Lions need: discipline and a meaner edge.

The others

There are some dark horses: Manuel Cajuda and Manuel José. The former is currently coaching Sharjah FC in the United Arab Emirates and may have already peaked.

The latter is the head coach of the Angolan national team and despite all the success enjoyed in Egypt with Al-Ahly, he’s not highly regarded in Portugal after a disastrous stint at Benfica.

Not to mention the fact Angola will host the African Cup of Nations in 2010 and he’ll hope to make history with the team.

This week Bettencourt will most likely unveil a new manager and, hopefully for Sporting, he can turn the club’s fortunes around.

The league would certainly appreciate that.


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