Champions at last. 19 years after, Sporting was finally back at winning a league, and did it in style. Leões were very close to grabbing a clean season without defeats. Young coach Rúben Amorim put a very competitive team out of a group that no one was having many faith in.
Sporting was impressive from the very beginning, holding an undefeated sequence for 32 rounds. After having dropped only 6 points in the first 16 rounds, Sporting met their rivals Benfica, and picked a very consistent performance, winning 1-0 and telling everyone they meant business.
The month of April was the most difficult, and the only time when there were some doubts over the team. Sporting picked 3 draws in 4 games and had to visit the tough Braga in the last week of the month. However, ‘Leões’ showed their class once again, winning that game and reassuring the fans they were going to hold the cup in the end.
Coach Rúben Amorim is the big architect for the title. No one really believed in Sporting as a title contender, as the team was just a group of unproved young talent and some solid “average” players in key areas. Amorim turned in into an impressive winning machine.
Attacking midfielder Pedro ‘Pote’ Gonçalves was a quiet move from Famalicão but proved to be the most important player of the season, scoring a lot of goals and being involved in most attacking moves of Leões.
Coates was a true leader on his best season ever. João Palhinha was impressively dominant in every duel he had in midfield. Porro and Nuno Mendes had tremendous seasons on the wings and will be bringing important money for the club, soon.
Fans should be prudent about next season, though. The squad is still lacking depth and the novelty effect will be lost. Also, the team spent most of the season picking narrow wins. Amorim will need to improve his team to keep the standards of this season.