Como não sabia aonde por isto, decidi criar um novo tópico… se houver um lugar melhor para isto, peço desculpa, e peço à moderação para o mover para lá.
Então aqui vai:
Sporting: Moving on from annus horriblis
FOX Soccer.com PADDY HIGGS
Updated Nov 5, 2011 1:26 AM ET
Lisbon locals tell of a bridge on stretch of highway that remained in construction for over 40 years. Completed in 2010, it is a lesson of what it can take to build something of meaning in Portugal. Yet just a few miles from the bridge, Sporting Clube de Portugal - known more commonly as Sporting Lisbon – have become painfully aware of how brittle even the soundest of structures can become.
A sporting club borne of regal ties, the Lions have produced some of Portugal’s football royalty. One of the Primeira Liga’s exclusive Três Grandes, they list the likes of Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani among their alumni. Their trophy cabinet bulges with 18 Liga titles and 15 Taca de Portugal triumphs, but it has been more than three seasons since their last major trophy and nine years since they lifted the league title.
Last season, more than others since, those halcyon days seemed a lifetime ago. Sporting finished 36 points behind league-winning Porto, an astonishing number considering the club’s point total for the 30-match season: 48.
Now, swept along by a slew of new signings, confidence is returning to a club that’s overcome a slow start and again sit third thanks to a new cast of heroes, including Dutch striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Peruvian prospect Andre Carillo and colossus United States international defender Oguchi Onyewu.
But the tragedies and travails of the 2010-11 season remain fresh memories for Sportinguistas, and after what will become the annus horriblis of the club’s modern era, the lessons should not be forgotten in the hallways of the Estadio Jose Alvalade. The season began with the sale of two of the club’s favorite sons, devolved with the sacking of their manager and director of football, and a ultimately featured a bitter presidential election. All this while the rest of Portuguese football enjoyed a banner year, with three of the Liga clubs claiming spots in the Europa League’s semifinals.
The causes of Sporting’s troubles are not new. Where legendary Dutch manager Rinus Michels once uttered, “Football is business and business is business,” Sporting’s problems began with the former and have quickly become the latter. In the space of five years, this club with more than 100,000 members across 17 sports went from a net annual profit of €15.2m to a loss of €44m by the end of the 2010-11 financial year.
With its finances in disarray, the club was a ticking time bomb and, devastatingly for Sporting’s faithful, the fuse was lit on the eve of the 2010-11 season by one the club’s icons.
Along with Miguel Veloso, midfielder João Moutinho had been heralded as the next great hope to arrive off the club’s famed conveyor belt of talent. Elevated to captain of the club at age 20, Moutinho played a key role in Sporting’s four-consecutive runner-up finishes between 2005-06 and 2008-09. When he reportedly demanded a transfer on the eve of the 2010-11 season, the shock was mitigated by the hope he would move overseas.
Instead, a player synonymous at the Leoes with both hope and success was sold for a rumored €3.5m to arch-rivals Porto. More surprising than the destination and the low ticket price: Porto was the only team to bid for the the-23-year-old’s services, according to Sporting.
“(Sporting) did not want a rotten apple in its orchard, and it did not want someone who was not an example, nor dignified the flag of the club,” president José Ecuardo Bettencourt said of a player who, on season prior, was reportedly valued at €30 million by Chelsea.
Soon after, Veloso was sold to Serie A club Genoa to help balance the books. In the winter window, Sporting sold Liédson, their most reliable goal scorer. The departure of the 33-year-old – scorer of more than 100 goals in 214 appearances for Sporting - was described as ‘ruinous business’ by Costinha, the club’s own director of football.
"I remember playing against Sporting and Benfica at the higher stage,” the former Portugal and Porto midfielder lamented “A lot of players gave their lives to play for Sporting. Nowadays, it’s not like that.”
Costinha was sacked for his comments, and soon after, manager Paulo Sérgio suffered the same fate. Having seen little of the money from the sale of his engine room, Sérgio knew he was on borrowed time when he was denied the signing of three new players before the winter window shut.
“I immediately thought: I’m gone,” he told Sport TV after his sacking, before describing Bettencourt’s response to a request for a striker with height: “He told me several times that it risked the future of Sporting to give me a pine tree or a Christmas tree.”
The quote made headlines around the country - yet another sign of the tumult inside the club’s inner sanctum.
Under the guidance of general manager José Couceiro, Sporting limped to third place, barely finishing ahead of Paciencios’s Braga. In addition to the chasm between it and first, Sporting finished 15 points behind second place Benfica. At season’s end, Sporting’s players looked lifeless and uncommitted. Several fell out with the club.
Amid that backdrop, Sporting‘s 2011-12 began ominously, going winless in their first three league games. Yet Paciencia’s complete overhaul of the his squad - with Pedro Mendes, Maniche and Marco Torsiglieri among almost 20 players to be shipped out - meant it was always likely the new-look Sporting may take time to click.
Van Wolfswinkel, tricky winger Diego Capel and Brazil international Elias were among a host of signings made possible by a €100m loan secured in the off-season, As they have found their feet, so have Sporting rediscovered theirs.
Thursday’s Europa League loss snapped a run of 10 consecutive wins, a streak that brought the Sportinguista faithful back. Their side sits a mere three points back of Porto and Benfica in the Primeira Liga, a surge paralleled the rise by their largest offseason acquisition.
Having missed much football while injured and on the fringes at AC Milan, Onyewu had a delayed start to Sporting’s campaign after signing in June. But his return to fitness and his subsequent form has mirrored his side’s on-field renaissance, leaving il gigante well placed to shed light on the club’s improved form.
“We players now we feel good with each other,” Onyewu said before Saturday’s 2-0 win over Feirense. “Of course in the beginning of the season it was different. We were all new, and I had never been part of a team which had so many new players arriving so quickly.”
“Of course, we need time to get to know and learn about each other, both on and off the field. But now we are playing good football as a whole team.”
Optimism aside, it will take more than an Indian summer to revive the club’s fortunes, both on and off the pitch - a point not lost on Paciencia upon his appointment:
“This is a huge challenge. It’s an enormous step forward in my career. I don’t want to fail.”
Indeed, failure is no option for Sporting, lest that nondescript bridge not far from Estádio Jose Alvalade outlast the once-powerful club.
E aqui está o link:
Tem lá uma boa foto do Ricky e do Capitão América!!! Acho que foi quando o Gooch marcou o golo contra o Paços.