Sitting in 4th place and a turbulent period for one of Portugal’s largest clubs, it has been a hard for the Lions to stay in contact with their fiercest rivals at the top of the Primeira Liga. Many in England will know of the club’s exports which have either graced or flopped upon arriving in the Premier League with Bruno Fernandes the latest player to try his hand in the Enlgis but many may not be familiar with Lisbon’s recent journey. We discuss with Sporting Lisbon fan Dan Anjos what it’s like to support the club at the moment.
What are expectations currently like at the club? What were you hoping Sporting could achieve this season prior to a ball being kicked?
The expectations were not high, I was very glad we were able to keep hold of Bruno during the summer. I was hoping that we would at the very least start to introduce more of our youngsters through to the first team which is something that all Sporting Lisbon fans are hugely proud of. I think the fans are starting to get frustrated with the current President and once again we were far from Porto and Benfica but also Braga this season. It may not all be doom and gloom though with our new manager.
There are some high profile names at the club including Jeremy Mathieu, Yannick Bolasie and of course you had Bruno Fernandes. Why have the club drifted so far from the top of the table?
I think it all goes back to when we still had Jorge Jesus as our coach and we lost the league by one point that year (2015) It was the closest we got to the title since 2002. We then started to lose the core of that team because ultimately Sporting are a selling club. The training ground incident did not help us and we lost some of our best players because of that i.e William Carvalho, Rui Patricio. Plus we lost 2 players whom were highly regarded by fans as exciting and the next wave of Sporting Wingers/Forwards to excite us them being Daniel Podence and Rafa Leao.
You recently changed head coach, can you explain your thoughts on the appointment of Ruben Amorim?
I was shocked to see we paid 10m Euros to purchase Ruben from Braga after only 13 games in charge of Braga where he won the League Cup and beat all the big three. However, I have had some time to reflect and I do understand why we have done it. Despite Ruben being a self-confessed Benfica fan and an Ex-Benfica player who won a lot at the club he will bring a winning mentality to the club and new ideas. He made Braga play some of the best football this year in Portugal with his innovative 3-4-3 whilst bringing through some of Braga’s brightest prospects including Trincao (Barcelona have signed him already). Plus he knows the league better than a lot of people. We will need to be patient with him but on paper we have paid for a young ambitious manager who will understand how big Sporting are and their big principles should be fulfilled.
The club tend to produce a number of players who go on to play at the highest level, can we expect to see any stars linked with a big move in the future?
Unfortunately Sporting has fell behind Benfica and Braga in producing players. However there are a few examples of players that are likely to reach the highest level. Firstly, Wendel, despite not coming from our Academy we spent close to 10m Euros on the Brazilian and he is now starting to become one of our most influential players and a normal presence in the Brazil U23’s. His main skill being able to link defence and attack (vice versa) effectively through his pace and stamina. Arguably the best ball carrier in Portugal whom would suit the Premier League. Our Goalkeeper Max is also destined for great things, the best goalkeeper to come from our academy since Rui Patricio, many expect him to be number 1 for Portugal once Rui retires. There are other examples of players that could make it to the highest level especially if our Manager is able to fulfil their potential like he did with the Braga players.
What have the highs and lows of your season been so far?
The low has been the entire season although the high was Sporting’s 4-0 win over PSV.
How much do you expect Sporting to suffer with the departure of Bruno Fernandes?
Hugely, he has been the best player I have seen to wear our shirt. However, we now have a chance to start fresh with our new Manager and change our game style.
What are your immediate emotions when talking about this season as a whole?