Al Ittihad Sack Nuno Espirito Santo Following Rift With Karim Benzema

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    Al Ittihad have dismissed Nuno Espirito Santo following a horrendous start to the 2023/24 season.

    Espirito Santo was fired on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, with a statement shared on the Pro League champions’ socials.

    An excerpt from the statement read: “The club has announced the end of its contract with Portuguese coach Nuno Santo.”

    They also added the reason for dismissing the former Tottenham Hotspur boss, stating that it was following a “comprehensive technical evaluation” of recent matches.

    Nuno Espirito Santo fired by Al Ittihad
    Nuno Espirito Santo fired by Al Ittihad

    Nuno Espirito Santo was appointed manager of Al Ittihad on July 4, 2022, and he guided the club to the Saudi Pro League title last campaign.

    Despite the torrent of quality available at his disposal as manager of Al Ittihad, he was only able to muster 2 victories from their last 9 matches in all competitions this season.

    The Tigers made many bold moves in the transfer market signing notable players, including; N’Golo Kante, Fabinho, Jota, and Karim Benzema.

    Reports indicate that following a defeat to Al Quwa Al Jawiya in the Asian Champions League, several players were disgruntled in the dressing room, including; former Real Madrid forward Benzema.

    What made Al Ittihad fire Espirito Santo?

    Karim Benzema and now former manager Nuno Espirito Santo reportedly hurled insults at each other and that ultimately resulted in the dismissal of the Portuguese.

    Al Quwa Al Jawiya defeated Al Ittihad 2-0 courtesy of goals from Ali Jassim and Mohannad Abdul-Raheem in the 44th and 52nd minute respectively.

    That defeat was the Saudi Arabian side’s first defeat in the competition this season, having won their entire 3 matches before that game, which has seen them rise to the summit of the table with 9 points.

    From winning the Saudi Pro League to having a poor start to the season

    However, their league form has been utterly poor, as they sit 6th on the Saudi Pro League table, 11 points away from 1st place Al Hilal and 7 points below 2nd place Al Nassr.

    The Tigers have won 6 matches this campaign out of 12 matches played, losing 3 and drawing 3.

    They will be hoping that their fortunes will improve quickly, taking into account the amount of reinforcements they made during the summer.

    There have been speculations that Al Ittihad are looking at acquiring a French manager to appease Benzema, following his rift with the fired Espirito Santo.

    Former Paris Saint Germain boss, Laurent Blanc, has been rumored as a potential replacement for Santo, and he has massive experience managing in Asia, having managed Al-Rayyan from December 2020 to February 2022.

    Nuno Espirito Santo fired by Al Ittihad
    Al Ittihad are looking at a list of more A-list managers to replace Nuno Espirito Santo

    Al Ittihad are also admiring the possibility of hiring Zinedine Zidane, who last managed Real Madrid, but they know that they would have to outdo themselves in convincing the Frenchman.

    Meanwhile, the Saudi Pro League club have revealed that assistant manager, Hassan Khalifa, will take charge of the club pending the time a new manager is appointed.

    They also appreciated Nuno Espirito Santo for his contributions to Al Ittihad and wished him well for the future.

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