SPORTING LISBON boss Ruben Amorim is Portugal’s greatest coaching talent since Jose Mourinho.
Amorim has the chance to prove he too is a ‘special’ tonight when he leads his side against Manchester City in the Champions League Round of 16.
As SunSport first revealed, Amorim’s achievements have put him on Manchester United’s radar.
And when Guardiola calls him to City one day, Amorim could even be in the frame to take charge of the Etihad.
Filipe Dias, editor of Lisbon-based sports newspaper Record, said: “Since Mourinho, there hasn’t been a more captivating manager here in Portugal than Ruben Amorim.
“We are a small country but we have had good managers, like Mourinho and now Bruno Lage, in the Premier League.
“I think Amorim is also something special.”
But the 37-year-old’s personality is more like Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s than Mourinho’s.
Dias added: “Portuguese football is very belligerent. We are like a little Brazil or Argentina. There is a lot of enmity and acrimony, especially between the big three clubs.
“But Amorim is on a whole different level. He’s always calm, always positive, he doesn’t feel the need to say anything bad to upset an opponent.
“Sporting is a madhouse but he changed it overnight.
“Amorim was a Benfica fan as a child. He played for Benfica. He was a Benfica man through and through. But now he is revered at Sporting.
That’s because Amorim led them to their first title in 19 years last season, in his first full campaign.
This justified Sporting’s willingness to spend £8.4million – the third highest ‘transfer’ fee for a manager – to reward him from Braga in March 2020.
Amorim is renowned for his stubbornness. He applied essentially the same tactics and principles in his new job that he was (wrongly) told he wouldn’t be working at Braga.
Where the existing first team lacked the players capable of making their 3-4-3 system work, he promoted youngsters from Sporting’s respected academy to play alongside experienced heads like the former Liverpool Sebastian Coates.
I think Amorim is also something special.
Filipe Dias, record publisher
Joao Palhinha returned from loan to anchor the midfielder, and £6million signing Pedro Goncalves, formerly of Wolves, defied all expectations by finishing the season as the Primeira Liga’s top scorer.
Earlier this season, Amorim became the fastest manager to reach 50 wins in Portugal’s top flight.
But the defense of that long-awaited title suffered another blow on Friday night in an extraordinary game of four goals and five red cards.
Sporting trailed leaders Porto 2-0, only for Coates to be sent off early in the second half.
Porto equalized 12 minutes from time and then both sides saw two players sent off after a mass brawl after ten minutes of added time.
The 2-2 draw kept Porto six points clear at the top, but Amorim has already made Champions League history for Sporting by leading them to the knockout stages for the first time since 2008- 09.
Guardiola’s City will be a big step up in class. But Sporting’s ability to switch between pressing high and then inviting opponents to the next should cause them problems.
Whatever happens, the two clubs of Manchester, Liverpool, Chelsea and all the giants of European football will keep a close eye on Amorim.
Dias said: “It’s only a matter of time before Amorim moves on to bigger things in bigger leagues.
“If you put Manchester United ahead of him, that would be a great thing.
“But he could say no, if he thinks it’s not the right thing to do. It’s his way or not.