CONFIRMED: Rui Vitoria dismissed as Benfica manager
Rui Vitoria's time as Benfica manager has come to an end as the Portuguese club confirm they have mutually agreed to part ways.
The former Guimarães coach, who had been Benfica manager for three and a half years, has seen his contract terminated with immediate effect in the face of a season tainted with poor performances and negative results.
Across the board, Benfica have been well below par, failing to impress in any of the competitions they have taken part in this season, and the 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich is still fresh in the mind.
With Benfica currently languishing in 4th place in the league, four points off Porto who sit at the top with a game in hand, their hopes of regaining the Primeira Liga title have been dealt a significant blow in recent weeks.
Embarrassing back-to-back league defeats at the hands of Belenenses and Moreirense earlier this season very much sparked debate as to whether Vitoria's position as coach was salvageable, with Benfica then having to come from behind to beat Tondela in the very next fixture having conceded a goal in the opening 45 seconds of the match.
That uninspiring 3-1 victory over Tondela looked set to prove to be one of Vitoria's last league game in charge of Benfica, with widespread reports that president Luis Filipe Vieira was set to sack the manager that he had shown so much faith in over the previous couple of years.
However, after sleeping on his decision, Vieira underwent a complete change in opinion, and upon reflection decided that Vitoria was the right man for the job, even indicating that he will remain in charge until the end of the season.
However, after an embarrassing 2-0 defeat to Portimonense which has seen them drop two places in the league standings, Vieira has again changed his mind and has lost faith in Vitoria, who is now set to leave the club.
All in all, Vitoria's sacking will not come as a surprise, and that is despite the fact that he recently received public backing from his club president. It is testament to the terrible run of form and performances Benfica have endured in the last few months, with one disappointing outing seemingly following on from another.
It has led to those at the top determining that there are no grounds for Vitoria to continue as Benfica head coach and his dismissal has now been made official. The amount of compensation he may receive is not yet known, although he was still contracted to Benfica until 2020.
But who will be taking over from Vitoria? In the short-term, B Team manager Bruno Lage is expected to take charge, but in the long-term, it is a little more unpredictable.
One name that could be in the frame is none other than Jorge Jesus, Benfica's ex-manager who left the Eagles three seasons ago to join arch-rivals Sporting CP. Now in Saudi Arabia with Al-Hilal, his return to the club is seen as a possibility.
Alternatively, Guimarães manager Luis Castro is an excellent candidate, seen as someone who would fit in at Benfica very suitably.
For Rui Vitoria, it has been reported in recent weeks that he too is off to Saudi Arabia to link up with Al-Nassr.