Three weeks before Steve Bruce was handed the job of his dreams, Newcastle United had a rather more continental option to consider.
According to Sky Sports, Sergio Conceicao had his eyes firmly fixed on the vacant managerial post at St James’ Park. Young, hungry, tactically astute and a proven winner, the former Portugal international looked like exactly the kind of coach who could take Newcastle to the next level after three years under Rafa Benitez.
The 44-year-old is a force of nature who is starting to guarantee success everywhere he goes, reminiscent perhaps of a cocky, fresh-faced Jose Mourinho. Conceicao took over Nantes and transformed a struggling team, dragging them from the bottom of Ligue 1 to seventh place before leaving to take over at Porto in 2017.
12 months later, he led the Portuguese giants to their first league title in five years, breaking Benfica’s dominance.
Mourinho, who also made his name at the Dragao, is a big fan and understandably so.
But Newcastle went with Bruce. Their reward for thinking very much within the box? Five points from seven Premier League games, an unhappy fanbase, a series of dire performances and a 5-0 humiliation against a Leicester City side who barely needed to get out of third gear.
So how is Conceicao faring as Bruce’s dream job rapidly turns into a disaster? Well, he’s doing rather better to say the least. A 1-0 win at Rio Ave on Sunday night means Porto have won six out of seven Primeira Liga games this season with the title in their sights once again.
Newcastle, however, are already facing yet another relegation battle.
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