Under-pressure Portugal boss Fernando Santos set to be sacked and could be replaced by Paulo Fonseca
- Santos under fire after World Cup quarter-final exit
- Fonseca in the running to replace him
- Former Roma coach has strong ties with FPF
WHAT'S HAPPENING? Santos finds himself under intense pressure after the Seleccao's shock 2022 World Cup quarter-final loss to Morocco and the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) is expected to imminently bring an end to his eight-year tenure.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Santos made the colossal and controversial call to drop Cristiano Ronaldo for the last-16 clash with Switzerland but that daring decision was vindicated in stunning fashion, as the captain's replacement up front, Goncalo Ramos, scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 rout. However, Ronaldo's relegation to the bench was called into question after Portugal were upset by Morocco in the last eight.
AND WHAT'S MORE: The Seleccao are not short of top contenders to replace Santos should he be sacked. Indeed, Jose Mourinho has already been linked with the role. However, GOAL can confirm that Lille coach Fonseca would be a strong contender.
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THE VERDICT: That Santos is on the verge of the sack is unsurprising. He may have got the Ronaldo call correct but a quarter-final exit at the hands of Morocco was never going to go over well with the FPF, given Santos' tactics had been under scrutiny for some time now anyway. While he led Portugal to a shock triumph at Euro 2016, he had been accused of failing to get the most out of an outrageously talented group of players because of his conservative tactics – which explains why Fonseca could replace him at the helm. The Lille coach is renowned for his attractive brand of football and, crucially, already has close ties with the Portuguese federation. Indeed, Fonseca and his wife Katerina are ambassadors of an FPF project supporting the hosting, integration and employment of Ukrainian refugees, which was started earlier this year following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
WHAT NEXT FOR SANTOS, RONALDO AND FONSECA? Santos' future is expected to be decided soon but Ronaldo has not yet confirmed if he will continue playing international football, stating only that his "dedication to Portugal hasn't changed". The position of the coach is set to play a big role in what the striker does next. As for Fonseca, he only took over as Lille coach during the summer and is under contract until 2024 but could well be tempted to take on the top job in Portuguese football should it become available.