Benfica are so serious about prising Carlos Queiroz away from Old Trafford to become their next permanent coach that they are reportedly willing to make him their highest paid boss with the most control of the club ever.
Over three weeks after Jose Camacho jumped before he was pushed, the Lisbon giants maintain their pursuit of Sir Alex Ferguson’s right hand man, albeit safe in the knowledge that their league position is unlikely to suffer with caretaker Fernando Chalana in charge.
Queiroz is pretending not to be tempted and continues to play a straight bat to talk of him returning to Portugal:
“This is something I do not want to talk about, because I do not want to contribute to speculations concerning Benfica, a great club and institution,” he said.
Queiroz has been recommended by Benfica playmaker Rui Costa, in the final months of his career, who was consulted over the new appointment. The two go way back – to the late 80s and early 90s when Queiroz oversaw the development of Costa’s contemporaries – the ‘golden generation’ as Under-19s and Under-21s boss the FPF.
The 55 year-old coach remains a powerful figure in his homeland (born in Mozambique he holds a Portuguese passport), although he is now regarded with some suspicion at Sporting — his first club job.
Queiroz is generally credited with identifying, scouting, negotiating and translating for Manchester United’s two best signings of 2007 — Luis Nani and Anderson Abreu — who have both seemingly adapted to life in the north-west of England as well as the hurly burly of Premiership football.
His influence at Old Trafford has grown steadily since he first arrived in 2002 as Ferguson has increasingly taken a back seat over tactics and the day-to-day running of team affairs.
His reputation did take a hit in Madrid when he was placed in charge of an aging squad of galacticos for one trophyless season – he failed to fly solo but quickly scurried back to under the protective wing of Ferguson and is now back on the wanted list of a top club.
Speaking five languages — Portuguese, Italian, English, Spanish and French for the record — is certainly an advantage these days and he possesses the kind of contacts book that recently unearthed a potential bargain for United in hitherto unknown Manucho Goncalves.
His role has not gone unnoticed by his peers either as Republic of Ireland assistant boss Marco Tardelli recently revealed before he took the job as Trapattoni’s number two.
“I like the idea of being for Trapattoni what (Carlos) Queiroz is for Alex Ferguson at Manchester United,” said the Italian.
But what does this mean ? Sorting out the tactics, training, scouting and purchasing plans while the older man oversees proceedings in a figurehead role ?
And if that is the case, can Ferguson afford to lose Queiroz — even if it were to be a deferred departure at the end of the season (as seems most likely) ?
Lets face it, he’s coped with similar departures before and always seems to find the correct short or medium-term replacement. And what of Queiroz’s ambitions to one day succeed the great man and take full control ?
Although he appears to have Ferguson’s backing to pick up the reins whenever he calls it a day there remains a feeling among those close to the club that Queiroz needs to prove himself as a number one somewhere significant — and that may be the Estadio da luz.