Why “miracle worker” Ruben Amorim could be Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso alternative

Sporting CP coach Ruben Amorim has emerged as one of the favourites for the next Liverpool manager. Here’s why.

The 39-year-old has been in charge at Sporting CP for four years and has brought energy, positivity and, crucially, a league title to the Lisbon club for the first time in 19 years.

He has even been “a bit of a miracle worker” who has “kind of changed Portuguese football,” according to reporter Tom Kundert of Portugoal.

We spoke to Portuguese football journalist Kundert (@PortuGoal1) to discuss Amorim’s time as Sporting manager and what he could bring to Liverpool.


Why is he a candidate?

He’s been absolutely brilliant since he’s been at Sporting; you cannot really kind of overstate the impact which he’s had.

He’s just been superb for Sporting and he’s done it now over quite a sustained period of time. He’s got all the attributes to be the next big thing and you could even say he’s kind of changed Portuguese football.

If you just look at his record, he’s almost been a bit of a miracle worker.


How has he made a name for himself?

When he was appointed Sporting coach four years ago, in his first full season they were champions – that was the first time Sporting had won the championship in Portugal for 19 years.

Since then, he’s kept the performance level; Sporting were quite close to winning the championship the season after. Last season, not quite so successful.

This season, they’ve been brilliant again, arguably playing the best football they have since Amorim has been appointed.


Is he more of a man-manager or a tactician?

He’s got a bit of both, but I’d say definitely his strong suit is his man-management. He’s really good at creating a good atmosphere among the squad, a really good spirit of togetherness.

He did that in even in a short time at Braga before he came to Sporting, and at Sporting that’s really been one of the keys to his success, without doubt.

I’ve never heard him criticise any of his players directly, not once.


How does he set his team up?

Without doubt, he’s pretty astute tactically.

He is completely convinced in his way of playing and doesn’t change it at all, which is a 3-4-3, so a three-man back line.

Some people look at that tactic as a bit of a defensive tactic, because the wing-backs, if they drop back, you’re talking about five defenders.

I would say that was definitely the case in Sporting’s title-winning season. They had such a strong defence and that was really the key to winning the championship.

But it can also be a very offensive system, such as this season, where Sporting are just scoring goals for fun. They’ve scored more goals in the league this season than any time since the 1950s or ’60s.

The wing-backs are very offensive in this system.

There’s a few nuances when it comes to the attack. They usually play with two wide players playing between the lines, but sometimes this season he’s gone for a bit more of a traditional front two.


Has it worked in Europe?

I think it’s actually been the perfect system, because when Sporting play against really strong opposition, you’d expect them to play on the back foot most of the time. It’s really suited them.

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They’ve had some fantastic results. Last season, they got the better of Tottenham in the Champions League – beat them at home, drew away. Then, in the Europa League, they knocked out Arsenal.

It’s worked very well, without a doubt, at European level.


Do you think Amorim would move to Liverpool, or has he got a project at Sporting he’s happy with?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, April 8, 2010: Liverpool's Fernando Torres and Sport Lisboa e Benfica's Ruben Amorim during the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match at Anfield. (Photo by: David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He did spend almost the whole of his playing career in Portugal, in Lisbon as well for virtually all of it.

He’s still in Lisbon now and he seems to be very happy and settled here, but he’s an ambitious coach without a doubt.

With Portugal’s place in the football food chain, it’s almost inevitable when a coach starts doing well that a move abroad is probably the next logical step.

I think a move abroad will be inevitable, it will come. I suppose the question is ‘when?’.

If Sporting do win the championship, they go into the Champions League next season. Maybe that would persuade him to stay at Sporting for one more year.

It may also depend on how many players Sporting sell, because I’d say there are four or five players in that team that are destined for top careers and will definitely be sold to some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

• Thanks again to Tom Kundert for his insight on Ruben Amorim. Follow Tom on Twitter @PortuGoal1.