The Portuguese Football Federation announced today that Fernando Santos is the new coach of the Portuguese National Football Team, following the dismissal of Paulo Bento earlier this month. Santos had been a favorite for the job, but there was much speculation surrounding the open position, with the likes of Roberto Mancini and Vitor Pereira also touted for the job. Santos will take over the team immediately, but there are some uncertainties, as he is currently in the midst of an eight-match ban as a result of his antics while coaching the Greek National Team at this summer’s World Cup.
Santos has no shortage of experience. Having coached each of the “Big 3” in Portugal, Santos has won the Primeira Liga once, and both the Supertaca and the Taca de Portugal twice. Santos also had multiple stints coaching in Greece, where he arguably found greater success, winning the league’s manager of the year award four times. After a career coaching club football, Santos made the switch to international football, when he took the helm of the Greek National Team in 2010, taking over from long-time coach Otto Rehhagel. In the four years that Santos was in charge of Greece, the team only lost six times in 49 matches. This is an impressive statistic, especially when you consider that Portugal had a similar record under Paulo Bento, despite possessing a much more talented squad.
While Santos’s coaching skills are well-documented, there is a snag. As mentioned above, Santos is currently in the midst of an eight-match ban from FIFA for verbally abusing a referee while at the World Cup with Greece. The Portuguese Football Federation has appealed the decision to FIFA, who has taken it to the CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sports). There is a chance that the ban will be reduced, as an eight-match ban is quite heavy for referee abuse. There has been no official word as to who his assistant coach will be, but many sources claim that Ilidio Vale, the coach who guided the Portuguese Under-20 team to the U-20 World Cup final in 2011, will be, at least temporarily, assistant to Santos.