Portugal missed out on the UEFA Nations League finals after losing 1-0 at home to Spain in what was a disappointing performance and result.
Portugal’s star player Cristiano Ronaldo and head coach Fernando Santos are the team’s biggest problems
Portugal lost to Spain in the UEFA Nations League and majority of the blame should go to Ronaldo and Santos
With less than two months to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Portugal continues to underperform and there are two major culprits.
Head coach Fernando Santos along with team captain and star player Cristiano Ronaldo are the most obvious impediments to Portugal’s fluidity as a team.
Ronaldo’s negative impact on Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo is without a doubt one of the greatest to ever play the sport, his achievements and immense contributions for club and country cannot be sanely argued against.
But at 37 years of age, it has become painfully obvious that Ronaldo is no longer the player he used to be and there’s nothing wrong with that as all good things must come to an end.
His shambolic display against Spain was just the latest indication of what has become apparent, Ronaldo is no longer Portugal’s best player.
The forward no longer has the sharpness he has been revered for in the last 15 years, his decline limits Portugal in so many ways.
Against Spain, Ronaldo touched the ball 30 times and lost possession nine times while also missing a big chance that could have put Portugal through to the Nations League finals.
Especially with Portugal’s rich vein of attacking talent, Ronaldo should not still be a starter in 2022, everyone but coach Fernando Santos can see this.
Santos’ negative impact on Portugal
Portugal manager Fernando Santos appears to only be in the job because he led the country to the EURO 2016 title.
Without that achievement six years ago, Santos would most likely be out of the job already and Portugal would be free from his conservative shackles to achieve their true potential.
Apart from the manager’s undying loyalty and respect for Ronaldo which automatically makes him a starter for the national team despite riding the bench for his club Manchester United, Santos’ football ideology is the main reason he should be sacked.
Portugal’s current squad is arguably as good as they have had in a while but one wouldn’t think so by just watching them play because the manager prefers a safety first approach.
Santos insists on playing a double defensive midfield pivot despite having a plethora of attacking midfield talent.
He continues to deploy Bernardo Silva as a right winger despite the left-footed maestro dominating in midfield for his club Manchester City.
The insistence on playing an aged Ronaldo ahead of players like Rafael Leao and Joao Felix who are still in and around their prime years is another indication of Santos’ incompetence.
The next we see Portugal play will be at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, less than two months away from now and unless something extraordinary happens, Santos and Ronaldo will be central figures for A Selecao again.
But if the Portuguese national team is to progress, that should be their last involvement regardless of what they go on to achieve in Qatar.
Even if Portugal somehow wins the World Cup, they would be better off sacking Fernando Santos and retiring Cristiano Ronaldo so as to fully focus on ushering in a new generation and achieving their full potential.