Portugal boss Santos 'will NOT be sacked before World Cup play-off'

Portugal boss Fernando Santos ‘will NOT be sacked before their World Cup play-off in March’ despite Cristiano Ronaldo fuming at his boss after their woeful defeat by Serbia saw them blow chance of automatic qualification

  • Portugal will have to qualify for the World Cup the hard way after loss to Serbia 
  • Cristiano Ronaldo was seen venting at his boss Fernando Santos at full time
  • The result heaped pressure on Santos but he will reportedly stay for play-offs 

Portugal boss Fernando Santos will not leave his post before the World Cup play-offs next March, according to reports, despite his captain Cristiano Ronaldo being visibly furious with his manager after their dismal 2-1 loss to Serbia. 

Their hopes of reaching Qatar next year now hang by a thread after blowing the chance to finish top of a relatively unchallenging group featuring Serbia, Ireland, Luxembourg & Azerbaijan – heaping pressure on Santos.

But the 67-year-old will not be going anywhere before the team have a chance to redeem themselves in the play-offs, claims Portuguese outlet A Bola, with their front page reading ‘Fernando Santos Seguro’ – meaning ‘safe’.

Fernando Santos will lead Portugal in the World Cup play-offs, reports claim, despite failing to qualify for Qatar automatically

His position came under huge pressure after Cristiano Ronaldo (left) appeared to fume at him following their disappointing defeat by Serbia

It adds that the manager’s position ‘is not at risk’ and that ‘he will guide Portugal in the play-offs’, saying that the Portuguese FA ‘maintain confidence in the coach to lead the national team to the World Cup’.

Meanwhile, another Portuguese paper Record suggests Santos’ methods are ‘outdated’ and says his players are ‘tired’ but also believe he will stay put. 

Immediately after the full time whistle was blown against Serbia, Santos’ relationship with Ronaldo looked strained as he went to shake the Man United star’s hand, only for the star forward to fume at him. 

He looked frustrated and animated – gesticulating furiously with his arms towards him, with Santos then walking past him to embrace other players. 

Ronaldo’s theatrics did not stop there as he gesticulated furiously in the direction of Santos

The former Real Madrid and Juventus star then puts his hands on his hips before making his way towards the other players and the tunnel with his dejection still clear for all to see.   

Santos was critical of his players after the defeat, claiming they ‘played with fear and anxiety’, risking the wrath of Ronaldo by insisting that Bernardo Silva was ‘the only one’ who wanted the ball.

‘It looked like it was going to be, but it wasn’t,’ he said. ‘We scored the goal, we had the initial moments. But then we started to drop deep a lot.

Santos was critical of his players and said they played with ‘fear and anxiety’ against Serbia

‘The players tried. But then we didn’t turn the game on. Every time we did, we created problems. But most of the time we couldn’t.

‘Serbia were better. We tried. Our DNA is to have the ball on our feet and play. Bernardo Silva wanted the ball, but he was the only one.

‘We played with fear and anxiety. It’s my responsibility.’

Portugal will discover their opponents for the two-legged draw in March on November 26. They will be seeded for the draw, which will also feature Sweden, Wales, Czech Republic, Russia, Scotland, Armenia, North Macedonia and four other sides vying to reach Qatar. 

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