On December 14th, next week already, all Sporting fans will celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the greatest games of our history. At the 14th round of the 1986/87 Portuguese League, Sporting, then managed by no other than Manuel José, humiliated our eternal rivals 7-1. It was the biggest ever difference in a score in official games between the two teams as well as the biggest ever defeat of the Reds in the history of our league.
Here's the translation of a text published in a Sporting fans site about the coach responsible for that amazing feat. Good reading and hopefully Manuel José will celebrate it with a great run of Al-Ahly at the World Club Cup in Japan!
A Gentleman in football
by António Gouveia
Translated from Alvaláxia
Manuel José conquered for the second time the African Champions League. It is no surprise to me. This excellent football professional, that did already more than 500 games in our main league, besides being a true gentleman, showed once again all his qualities.
It was him that in the mid-80s took over Portimonense, struggling to grab a mid-table position and took it to the European Cups. From there to Sporting was just a step. My club, then with hunger for titles and with its traditional capacity of firing coaches managed to keep him there for one and a half season. He was almost champion and he reached the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Cup, our best result until then in that tournament. But the very demanding supporters (all coaches) of Sporting raised their demands, not giving him any manoeuvring space. Meaning that in the middle of the following season, he left. From then to the 90s he still returned to Sporting in a period that coaches were fired on Mondays and went to coach several other teams including Marítimo.
It is then in the first half of the 90s that he prepares and consolidates a European sized Boavista, having this club systematically fighting for a position giving access to the European Cups and even aiming at league spots above the 3rd place. This work as afterwards pursued and at the beginning of the new millenium Boavista became the 5th ever Portuguese champion.
In this period of stability it is possible to see evolving several players at Bessa: from João Pinto to Ion Timofte, from Erwin Sanchez to Litos, etc. It was also possible to all his tactical "chameleon-like" skills. The tactical scheme would adapt to any opponent and every situation. His diplomacy and respect for his opponents would be always present, side by side with a fair analysis to his own positive or negative work. He would always accept criticism with fair-play.
Until he went to Africa he passed through several clubs. Benfica and União de Leiria included. In the first he was not suly accompanied, by the directors or by the players. It was one of the worst periods of Benfica. The reds were literally playing sideways or backwards. At Leiria he was also involved in what would give origin to their current status of a feared and respected team. He managed to get a 5th place, one place ahead in the table of a dying squad named Benfica.
From his African adventure, from which yesterday's issue of the magazine "Dez do Record" related a few facts, I know little. It is however clear that the man is the same and that he adapted to his new life and tried to improve what he found. José, as he is known in Egypt, is a semi-God for the fans of Al-Ahly. This club, that holds a rivalry often even superior to the one between Sporting and Benfica, with Zamalek, reached the top of African football with the discipline imposed by Manuel José. Even more important than that was his capacity to channel the exacerbated emotions of fans and journalists, that due to the smallest mistake, ask for the head of coaches. This was obvious when Nelo Vingada, then coach of Zamalek lost against him and José left the press conference room because the journalists where not respecting his colleague.
Congratulations Manuel José!