9th January, 2023
Portugal has appointed Roberto Martinez as their new head coach after Fernando Santos called time on his eight-year stint at the helm last month, a decision which followed a shock World Cup defeat to Morocco.
Santos led Portugal to the quarter-finals in Qatar, where he benched Cristiano Ronaldo for the Selecao’s two knockout games — a comprehensive 6-1 win over Switzerland and the 1-0 loss to the Atlas Lions.
Martinez, who has reportedly signed a four-year deal, became a free agent shortly before Santos’ departure — leaving his role as Belgium coach after the Red Devils slumped to a dismal group-stage exit in Qatar.
Former Wigan and Everton boss Martinez led the Belgians to their best World Cup campaign when they clinched third place at Russia 2018, though his failure to deliver silverware with a crop of players said to be the country’s “golden generation” has attracted criticism.
Martinez oversaw 61 games during his six-year spell in charge, winning 47 (77%).
Belgium beat Canada in their opening match in Qatar but a defeat to Morocco and draw with Croatia saw them slump eliminated from a World Cup group for the first time since 1998.
They entered the tournament second in the FIFA rankings but dropped to fourth after their failure to reach the knockout stage.
Upon taking the job, one of Martinez’s foremost challenges will be to make a decision on the international future of Ronaldo, who has joined Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia following the termination of his contract with Manchester United.
Though Ronaldo recognised his “most ambitious dream” was over after failing to inspire Portugal to glory at his fifth World Cup, the 37-year-old is yet to retire from international football.
Reports coming from Martinez’s camp, however, claimed the new coach may ask Cristiano Ronaldo to retire or be ready for a lesser role in his team.
Reacting to the emerging reports, Martinez said;
“Cristiano Ronaldo deserves respect after 19 years as part of the national team, we’re gonna speak about that together soon,” the coach says during a press conference.