THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Jorge Jesus lost all three trophies

icon portclubs30 May ~ Vitória de Guimarães' Portuguese Cup win on Sunday was their first major trophy, not counting their equivalent of the Community Shield in 1988. But the team they beat are grabbing the headlines. Benfica's end of season featured three results almost eerie in their symmetry. First came the 2-1 defeat – the only one of their league campaign – at Porto in the penultimate game, effectively handing their rivals the title. Then they lost 2-1 to Chelsea in Amsterdam, missing out on their first European trophy since 1962. Sunday's 2-1 reverse was the coup de grâce.

Benfica celebrated after beating Marítimo in Madeira at the end of April, convinced that the last three league games would be a formality. Benfica had by common consent been the strongest, most consistent team throughout the season, which made their failure across the board even more painful for their fans. Given the quality of the team's performances and the tantalising closeness to three trophies, club president Luís Filipe Vieira went on record, after the Europa League semi-final against Fenerbahce, to say that coach Jorge Jesus would be staying beyond the end of the season, when his contract ends.

But Sunday's final has put this extension in doubt, less for the defeat itself than the manner in which Benfica lost. They just didn't look up for it, unlike Vitória, who ended far stronger than the team that had finished 37 points ahead of them in the league. The Benfica players declined to shake hands with the Portuguese president Cavaco Silva when they went up for their medals and sloped off the pitch without waiting for the trophy to be presented to Vitória.

The bad sportsmanship didn't stop there. Paraguayan striker Óscar Cardozo collared Jesus at the final whistle and, in full view of the TV cameras, shoved the coach and jabbed his finger in his face, apparently blaming him for the loss. This most public display of insubordination, suggesting that Jesus had "lost the dressing room", was enough to bring the board of directors together on Tuesday to discuss his future.

It's hard not to feel a little sorry for the coach; he cut a pathetic figure when he sank to his knees at Porto's 92nd-minute winner in the league decider and was in tears on the touchline towards the end of the cup final. He has been in the job four years – a case of longevity for Portugal – and until a month ago generally accepted at the club, despite the relatively meagre tally of trophies won in that time: one league title and three league cups.

On Sunday, though, he was jostled and insulted as he went up for his loser's medal and Monday's poll on the website of influential sports daily A Bola had 70 per cent wanting him out. Reportedly, he's determined to stay but the swelling tide of opposition, both from the fans and the Benfica-centric media, should see him on his way. It has been a period of unusual stability at the Luz, flavoured with a brand of attractive football that hasn't been seen since Sven-Göran Eriksson's spell there in the early 1990s. If Jesus does go, he will be paying the price for generating a huge amount of optimism and then failing to deliver when it came to the crunch. Phil Town

Related articles

Sporting president under pressure to step down after fans attack players
Embed from Getty Images // Several players were injured when supporters stormed Sporting’s training ground ahead of the cup final, rounding...
Hope for 2018 ~ part two
Embed from Getty Images // No more gambling ads, reform in Spain and Italy, and England playing in the Football League – WSC contributors&...
The best and worst moments of 2017 ~ part one
Embed from Getty Images // From Scotland’s failures to the triumph of England’s Under-17s, via John Terry, astounding Cup runs and...