After achieving hegemony in Portuguese football (16 championship titles in 22 seasons) and prospering in Europe, FC Porto’s domestic domination and international successes abruptly ended in 2013-14. Four long seasons without a trophy, financial meltdown and a series of failed managerial appointments seemed to have marked a definitive shift in the Portuguese football landscape.
Curiously, all the coaches who occupied the hot seat at the Estádio do Dragão during the barren spell went on to achieve considerable success elsewhere after being “let go” by club supremo Pinto da Costa: Paulo Fonseca at Shakhtar Donetsk, Luís Castro at Rio Ave and Chaves, Julen Lopetegui as Spain coach, Nuno Espírito Santo at Wolves. The clear suggestion was that the problems at the club ran much deeper than the occupant of the dugout.
Then Sérgio Conceição was appointed. The fiery former Porto favourite had enjoyed a successful managerial career, but nobody quite expected the phenomenal impact he has had on the northern outfit. Porto are unbeaten and top of the league, into the semi-finals of both domestic cups, into the last 16 of the Champions League, all the while playing high-intensity non-stop attacking football. Simon Curtis looks at the rise of Sérgio Conceição.
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