November 8 – Al Ittihad have sacked former Spurs boss Nuno Espírito Santo after an underwhelming start to the season despite an influx of superstar summer signings.
They have won six of 12 league games this season and suffered a 2-0 defeat by Air Force Club of Iraq in the Asian Champions League on Monday. Assistant coach Hassan Khalifa will take interim charge of the team.
Champions League winning coach Zinedine Zidane is the favourite to take over, but he has so far refused to acknowledge he is in talk with the club.
Espírito Santo, 49-year-old joined the Saudi-based club in July 2022 after leaving Tottenham Hotspur just four months into the 2021-22 season, despite an opening day victory over Manchester City. He signed with Spurs following an impressive spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers upon the club’s return to the Premier League.
Espírito Santo oversaw one of the most fruitful transfer windows in world football, welcoming Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema, World Cup winner Ngolo Kante and Champions League regular Fabinho amongst others from some of the top clubs in the world, spending €119 million in the process.
The club even mounted an ambitious last-minute effort to sign Liverpool icon Mohamed Salah for a fee of more than €150 million.
But despite their star-studded squad, Espírito Santo oversaw just two wins from their last nine games across all competitions.
In a statement on X, Al-Ittihad said: “The club has announced the end of its contract with Portuguese coach Nuno Santo.
“This decision comes after a comprehensive technical evaluation of the past phase during which he was in charge of coaching the first football team.”
Reports suggested that Espírito Santo had developed a difficult relationship with former Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema. After an embarrassing defeat to Al-Quwa Al-Juwiya, tempers flared in the changing room and Benzema and Nuno reportedly exchanged insults, according to Revelo.
Al-Ittihad sit sixth in the Saudi Pro League, 11 points behind league leaders Al-Hilal. They face Abha on Friday and will hope to recoup some much-needed points in pursuit of the SPL trophy.
Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at email@example.com