Why do West Ham want Ruben Amorim?

EditorLast Update :
Why do West Ham want Ruben Amorim?

He is one of the most sought-after managers in Europe and West Ham United have him high on their list of potential replacements for David Moyes.

Ruben Amorim, the Sporting Lisbon head coach, is a name many are starting to become familiar with. The 39-year-old has been heavily linked with the Liverpool job, with Jurgen Klopp set to leave at the end of the season and Xabi Alonso reaffirming his commitment to Bayer Leverkusen.

West Ham have held talks over an ambitious move to appoint Amorim as manager if Moyes leaves when his contract expires at the end of the season. The 60-year-old Scot revealed in February he has been offered a new deal, but after being knocked out of Europe and their Premier League form nosediving, a change appears to be on the cards.

The decision of who comes next will fall on chairman and technical director Tim Steidten, who arrived from Bayer Leverkusen last summer and is stamping his mark on the club.

Another option is former Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Julen Lopetegui, but Amorim has emerged as the leading target.

What are his strengths? What formation does he play? Does he give youth a chance? Does he play exciting football? The Athletic has analysed why Amorim is high on West Ham’s radar.

Who is he?

Amorim, who is from Lisbon, played for Belenenses, Benfica, Braga and Al-Wakrah during his playing career. He retired at the age of 37 in 2017 and started his managerial career in 2018-19 with third-division Portuguese side Casa Pia.



‘He will be an unavoidable name in European football’ – Ruben Amorim, Europe’s next supercoach?

But it did not start well when he was given a suspended one-year ban for delivering instructions during the match without the required completion of his coaching badges by the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF). Casa Pia were fined and threatened with a points deduction, Amorim quit, but the team he left behind still won promotion at the end of the season.

Amorim rejected a job offer from Benfica, the club he supported, to take charge of their B team and instead became manager of Braga’s B team in September 2019. He won seven of his first eight games and three months later became manager of the first team following the sacking of Ricardo Sa Pinto.

“Here at Braga, Ruben Amorim’s impact was tremendous,” said Paulo Meneses, their head of recruitment. “First on the B team and then on the first team. His personality, the way he works, made us think that we could be in the presence of a top coach.”

Amorim won eight of the nine league games he managed for Braga. There were noticeable victories over Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Benfica. He won the Portuguese League Cup, which was Braga’s first trophy since 2016. But when Sporting sacked Silas in March 2020, Amorim was appointed as his successor. He did not come cheap, with Sporting activating his €10million (£8.6m; $10.7m) release clause.

Since his appointment, Amorim has won the Portuguese League Cup twice and is set to win a second title this season. Sporting are 10 points clear of Benfica. It is no wonder he is a man in demand and he would be attainable this summer.

He has a release clause of around €10million — a relatively modest figure for such a highly-rated manager — but there is the caveat that he has yet to test himself outside of Portugal.

What’s his style?

Amorim has a fixed 3-4-3 setup based on high possession that looks to work the ball through the thirds in a careful, considered manner, although this season’s arrival of centre-forward Viktor Gyokeres, from Coventry City in the Championship, has given them a strong transitional threat. Amorim’s wing-backs hold more fixed positions high up to maximise width across the pitch.


Gyokeres has starred under Amorim (Carlos Costa/AFP via Getty Images)

“Ruben is a coach that brings everyone together,” said Meneses. “From the players, administration, and staff, everyone ‘buys into’ your idea. This is key to creating a winning mindset. He has a very strong personality but does not fracture the group. With his strong leadership, he manages to unite and aggregate. He is very smart in human relationships and communication. These are Ruben’s strengths as a coach.”

Amorim’s style differs to Moyes’ preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. West Ham try to play counter-attacking football and often have less possession than their opponents. West Ham have only won four of their 21 games across all competitions this year. Of those victories against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Freiburg, Everton and Brentford, Moyes’ side had less possession.

As you can see by The Athletic’s playstyle visualisation below, West Ham’s possession share ranks in the sixth percentile among Europe’s top seven leagues. By contrast, Amorim’s Sporting are in the top 20 per cent (possession, 83 out of 99).

Amorim asks his players to press high up the pitch (intensity, 92 out of 99) and squeeze the play by often bringing his centre-backs to the halfway line (high line, 80 out of 99) — both traits that are far less common to see from a David Moyes side.

For Sporting, only city rivals Benfica have logged more high turnovers (regains 40 metres or less from the opponent’s goals) than their 278 in the Primeira Liga this season.

He is happy to give youngsters a chance, with Nuno Mendes, Joelson Fernandes, Matheus Nunes, Eduardo Quaresma and Tiago Tomas featuring under him. Mendes was sold to Paris-Saint Germain for £34million in May 2022, while Nunes joined Wolverhampton Wanderers in a club-record £42.2m deal in August of the same year. Last summer, the midfielder joined Manchester City for £53m.

Why so much excitement?

Sporting were sleepwalking into a decline before Amorim arrived. He has transformed the club and has overseen smart additions of Gyokeres, Francisco Trincao and Ousmane Diomande. Gyokeres, the 25-year-old Sweden striker, has been a revelation after signing for €20m from Coventry, scoring 38 goals in 45 appearances. An eye for a striker would really suit West Ham given their struggles to find a different option to Michail Antonio in recent years.

Porto and Benfica had dominated the league before Sporting won the title in 2020-21, their first championship since 2001-02.

“Ruben is destined to join a top club in the ‘Big Five’ leagues,” said Meneses. “It will have to be an ambitious project. He is an extremely ambitious coach. There will be nothing to excite him other than the ambition to win big trophies.”

Would this be a stepping stone?

This would be the youngest appointment by West Ham’s board, with their tried and tested appointments being the likes of Manuel Pellegrini, 64, Moyes, 55, and Sam Allardyce, 56. Slaven Bilic was a relative rookie when he joined at 46.

With it appearing likely Moyes will leave at the end of the season, Amorim would be an attractive, young and high-profile appointment.

He gives youngsters opportunities, which is aligned to the club’s mantra of being the academy of football. Moyes has struggled to give members of last season’s FA Youth Cup-winning team game time in the Premier League, much to their frustration.

Replacing Moyes does not bring the same level of pressure as replacing Klopp at Liverpool. Moyes had the arduous task of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United in 2013 following a successful and lengthy stint with Everton. His reputation took a dent after his sacking with failed stints at Real Sociedad and Sunderland, but he has restored that in his time at West Ham.

Staying at Sporting is always a genuine option for Amorim, but Sullivan and Steidten will hope they can convince him to join their rebuild. Just like Brighton & Hove Albion with Roberto De Zerbi, further success at a club like West Ham would surely lead to interest from Europe’s elite — but that would be a win-win for Amorim and West Ham.

(Top photo: Pedro Loureiro/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)