Portugal’s former Euro 2016 winning coach Fernando Santos sacked by Poland FA with immediate effect

Fernando Santos

Fernando Santos has been relieved of his duties as Poland’s manager, a decision that comes after a brief tenure of less than a year and only six games in charge. Poland’s latest setback occurred with a 2-0 loss to Albania on Sunday, marking their third defeat in five competitive matches under Santos and causing them to drop to fourth place in Group E during the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign.

The 68-year-old had previously managed his homeland, Portugal, where he achieved success by winning Euro 2016 and the inaugural Nations League in 2018-19, but he stepped down after the 2022 World Cup.

Poland’s upcoming fixture in October is a qualifier against the Faroe Islands. Following Santos’ departure, the Polish Football Association (PZPN) expressed their gratitude for his efforts, and in return, Santos voiced his appreciation for having had the opportunity to manage the nation. The highlight of Santos’ short-lived tenure was a 1-0 friendly victory over Germany in June.

Despite initially entering the European Championship qualification group as top seeds, Poland currently finds itself trailing behind Albania, Moldova, and the Czech Republic. Their path to the tournament, hosted by neighboring Germany, remains within reach if they can secure a top-two finish in their group. However, this outcome hinges on favorable results in other matches.

At present, Poland’s Nations League ranking would place them in the play-offs. Throughout Santos’ tenure, Poland’s captain and all-time leading goal scorer, Robert Lewandowski, featured in all six matches, scoring three goals and extending his international goal tally to 81.

One of Santos’ trademark characteristics is his ability to set up his teams to be defensively resolute. He often employs a well-structured defense with a compact midfield, making it challenging for opponents to break down his sides. Santos values disciplined defending and places great emphasis on teamwork and positional awareness.

In attack, Santos typically encourages his teams to be patient and methodical rather than relying on high-risk, high-reward strategies. His teams often look to exploit opponents’ weaknesses through quick transitions and set pieces. Santos understands the importance of balance and ensures that his teams maintain defensive stability while still creating goal-scoring opportunities.

Santos’ conservative approach has yielded success, as evidenced by Portugal’s triumph in Euro 2016 and the Nations League in 2018-19. His style may not always be the most entertaining, but it is effective in achieving results, especially in tournament settings where consistency and minimizing mistakes are key.