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PORTUGAL

José Mourinho turns down Benfica approach

José Mourinho turns down Benfica approach

The Portuguese coach was linked with a return to Lisbon giants Benfica who are searching for a new manager after Thursday's dismissal of Rui Vitoria.

Benfica fired first team coach Rui Vitoria on Thursday after a series of poor results for the team he led to back-to-back Portuguese titles in 2016 and 2017.

The "Águias" finished runners-up in the domestic Portuguese campaign last season but failure to qualify for the Round of 16 in the 2018/19 Champions League coupled with recent poor results saw the Lisbon giants slip to fourth in the Liga NoS table. Vitoria's situation was further compounded by a midweek 2-0 defeat to Portimonense which was the final straw for the Benfica board.

Benfica’s ‘B’ team coach Bruno Lage, has been appointed as an interim coach as the Portuguese side now begin to look for a successor to Vitoria.

'Mou' return 

Before his successful spell with FC Porto, Mourinho briefly managed Benfica in 2000 where was assistant to Jupp Heynckes before the German was sacked after the fourth week of the domestic season with the side languishing in seventh place. Mourinho was in charge for 9 league games but quickly left the club after a contract dispute with the recently elected president Manuel Vilarinho.

Portuguese sports daily Record report that Benfica earmarked Mourinho as a potential replacement for Rui Vitoria with the former Manchester United manager now a free agent following his dismissal from the Premier League side last month.

The Setubal born coach however rejected the club's approach stating that a return to Portugal at this point does not form part of his immediate plans.