Portugal’s most high-profile coaching exports abroad suffered similarly depressing results on Sunday evening, with Nuno Espírito Santo’s Tottenham Hotspur and José Mourinho’s Roma losing fierce local derbies in London and Rome respectively at the end of the weekend.
There are some positive stories on the Portuguese bosses abroad landscape, however, as Vítor Pereira and Renato Paiva are sitting pretty at the top of the table in Turkey and Ecuador. There was also a remarkable substitute story in Qatar as Luís Castro saw a player score five times after coming off the bench.
Nuno is experiencing a swift change in fortunes and perception at new club Tottenham. Sunday’s 3-1 defeat to North London rivals Arsenal, during which Spurs were blown away by three goals in the first 34 minutes, represented a third straight league defeat for Nuno’s’ men. Not only have Spurs lost three Premier League matches in succession, they have conceded three goals in each game and suffered the defeats to London rivals, having also been beaten by Crystal Palace and Chelsea.
My decisions were not good ones - Nuno
The decline in form comes after Spurs had won their first three matches, giving Nuno an unexpectedly successful start in the job. However, Sunday’s defeat and performance attracted much criticism, forcing the former Porto boss to concede he and his team must take responsibility in the face of fan and media backlash.
“We had a gameplan, we were not able to execute it the right way and my decisions according to the gameplan were not good ones,” Nuno told the BBC. “I believed that the gameplan was good, credit to Arsenal because they were stronger, faster than us, aggressive. We were not able to control the possession of the ball, we lost too many duels.
“But the responsibility is mine, of course it has to be mine and what I’m focused on is making the right decisions and working to get it right.”
Mourinho targets referee after derby loss
In Italy, José Mourinho’s Roma also paid the price for a slow start in the Derby della Capitale against Lazio. Mourinho’s side came into the match having made a solid start to the Serie A season, but found themselves 2-0 down inside twenty minutes, with former player Pedro coming back to haunt the Giallorossi by getting Lazio’s second.
Despite registering two goals in what was the away fixture at the shared Stadio Olimpico, Roma ended the evening defeated 3-2 by Maurizio Sarri’s side. Mourinho attracted attention after the match for reportedly refusing to answer media questions, but it was later clarified that the Portuguese had declined to take part in Lazio’s stipulated press conference in which journalist are not allowed to ask questions directly and instead must go through a media officer.
Speaking to Roma’s in-house channel Mourinho, who held a meeting with his players on the pitch at full time, said: “First of all, I have to say something positive: Italian football has improved a lot, both in terms of the quality of the attacking football and in the desire from teams to try and win games. It was a fantastic match, but unfortunately the referee and VAR weren’t up to the standards of the game.
“I back my players, though, because I think that Roma were the better team on the pitch. Obviously whenever you concede three goals you have made mistakes, but for both the second and third goals they were scored on the counter-attack. And, with the second, the team was expecting to get a penalty and not to have to defend the counter.
“But we played well, we tried, we dominated in parts. We left everything we had out there on the pitch. We made things really difficult for Lazio. They saw out the final few minutes in the way they wanted to do, and they were lucky because the referee allowed them to do that too.
“I am always serene. During the half-time break I told the players that in transition they could really hurt their opponents, but in doing that obviously we would be taking some risks ourselves on the other end.
“So, yes, we showed quality, we showed heart, we showed team spirit. Maybe you don’t agree with me, but we deserved a different result from this game. And the referee had a massive impact on this game.”
Pereira praises “fantastic” table-toppers Fenerbahce
Fenerbahce are the leaders of the Turkish Super Lig after seven rounds of action, following a 2-1 victory at Hatayspor on Sunday afternoon. Goals from Diego Rossi and Filip Novak put Fenerbahce into a two-goal lead inside half an hour, and despite Dylan Saint-Louis halving the deficit, Vítor Pereira’s side held firm for back-to-back league victories to climb top of the table.
“I think we analysed our opponent well,” Pereira said after the match. “My players gave a truly fantastic performance tactically today. We were very strong. It is a pity for us that we were not able to score more goals, because we created a lot of chances.
“Then, of course, there were moments in the game where our performance dropped. In fact, we scored a goal out of nothing - such goals can happen in football. But as I said, it was a game where we could score 3, 4, 5 goals. We created a lot of situations. Defensively, we showed a very stable performance.
“I am very happy with the performance of my players. I have a really fantastic group of players. I am very proud to be working with such a group.”
Paiva dismisses conspiracy theories as Independiente stay clear in Ecuador
Independiente del Valle, coached by Portuguese Renato Paiva, are five points clear at the top of the Ecuadorian Liga Pro second round after eight matches. Independiente were held to a 1-1 draw at home against Tecnico Universitario on Saturday, but remain in a strong position with six wins and two draws from their undefeated start.
Speaking after the match, the former Benfica academy coach levelled some criticism at the refereeing in Ecuador, with specific reference to the number of stoppages allowed. “My angst has to do with the fact that the referees can better control the playing time. Since I arrived in Ecuador, there is a lot of time that is not played. The effective playing time is much less than in other places,” he said.
Paiva also spoke about the suggestion that referees often favour specific big teams in the Liga. “Only those who have no brain and believe in conspiracy theories think that there is a campaign in favour of Independiente. If that were the case, the referees would not harm us the way they do.”
Castro’s incredible substitute; big win for Bruno Lage
A remarkable story in the Qatari Stars League as Luís Castro’s Al Duhail won 5-0 against Al Sailiya, with all five goals scored in the second half by substitute Michael Olunga. Former Shakhtar Donetsk coach Castro introduced the Kenyan at the interval after a goalless first half, and Olunga scored five times between the 56th and the 85th minute in Doha.
Meanwhile, there was a significant win for Bruno Lage and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Premier League. The 1-0 triumph at Southampton was not only a much-needed second victory for new Wolves boss Lage, but the winning goal was scored by star striker Raul Jimenez, who found the net for the first time since last October having suffered a serious head injury and an uncertain start to this season.
“I never put pressure on him to score goals because the way I saw Raul every time in the training, the way he worked for the team, the goal was only a question of time, and the goal has now come,” Lage said after the match.
“Sometimes in the previous games he created some good opportunities, and he didn’t score. But today, with a ball from the goalkeeper, he created his own chances and he scored. Football is like that.
“The points were important because we were not in the position we wanted to be in. But it’s a long journey, the competition is very hard, and today we played a strong opponent.
“But they need to continue to believe in our work and the results will continue to come.”
The rest: Rui Vitória, Marco Silva, Pedro Martins
Rui Vitória earned a precious victory in the Russian Premier League with Spartak Moscow, who have had an unconvincing start to the new season. The former Benfica boss’ side beat Ufa 2-0 in the capital to move up to 8th in the table, with four wins, four defeats and a draw from their nine matches so far. Vitória's men head to Italy to play in-form Serie A pacesetters Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday.
In Greece, champions Olympiacos led by Pedro Martins have already assumed leadership of the Super League after four matches thanks to a 2-0 win at Asteras Tripolis. In the English Championship, Marco Silva’s Fulham slipped to 4th place following a 1-1 draw at Bristol City
By Sean Gillen