For the first time in the history of Lisbon rivals Benfica and Sporting, a manager swaps one club for the other. Not shying away from criticism and the wrath of Sporting supporters, the club’s president Bruno Carvalho announced the appointment of Jorge Jesus, who had spent the last six years in charge of arch-rival Benfica. Having failed to agree an extension to his contract, Jesus will now take control at Sporting, who have failed to win Portugal’s Primeira Liga since 2002.
During his six years in charge at Benfica, the former Sporting player managed to lead the club to three league championships and amassed a total of ten titles in his time. In addition to this, Jesus was able to close the gap to Porto, who had ruled the division for several years, and also led Benfica to back-to-back Europa League finals in 2013 and 2014 respectively. If the trophy collection does not speak for itself, Jorge Jesus’ win ratio of over 70% during his time in charge, should be enough to sweeten the deal. Despite the incredible success at Benfica, Jesus was another manager who could not overcome the ‘Guttman Curse’ which goes back to 1962, when then-manager Bela Guttman left the club on bad terms and claimed that the club would never again win a European trophy.
The Sporting faithful may turn out to be upset about Jesus’ appointment, but the Portuguese mastermind takes over at club that finds itself in a state similar to Benfica’s in 2009. As such, there is hope that the Lions might manage to close the gap to Porto and Benfica and might even challenge for the title again.