Tehran Times - Esteghlal have lost two of their past three Iran Professional League (IPL) games to slip eight points off the top of the table which is occupied by their archrivals Persepolis.
The recent defeat against Sepahan has put Esteghlal’s head coach Ricardo Sa Pinto under pressure.
An added-time goal from Ramin Rezaeian helped Sepahan complete a dramatic late 2-1 win over Esteghlal in their pursuit of the title of IPL.
Esteghlal fans are unhappy with the Portuguese coach’s performance so far as the defending champions are now fourth in the IPL standing.
Their defeat against Sepahan showed how far Esteghlal have fallen behind their title race rivals this season and raised doubts about Sa Pinto’s future at the club.
The Portuguese has tried to turn attention to the referees and has criticize them for their decisions.
However, it didn’t work for Sa Pinto as the fans and former players of Esteghlal have put him under pressure and have criticized him especially for his behavior and reactions in and off the pitch.
The Blues’ form is in sharp contrast to their strong last season run when Esteghlal, under the guidance of Farhad Majidi, won the IPL trophy without a single defeat.
“Esteghlal have entered into an unwanted crisis and the controversies, mostly made by the head coach, and he has hurt the team,” says Mehdi Fononizadeh, former player of Estehglal, regarding the current condition of the team.
“Sa Pinto is a stubborn coach and has struggles with many players. He is not able or does not want to use some players. He must change his attitude towards many issues from tactical points to dealing with players,” added the expert.
Sa Pinto didn’t allow Siavash Yazdani, Esteghlal defender, to train on Sunday and removed him from the list and no clear reason was given by him for the decision.
Continuous changes in the team's line-up and even the team's tactics have caused confusion for the Esteghlal players in performing the assigned tasks on the pitch.
Sa Pinto is experiencing difficult times in the Iranian football, and maybe these recent results will cost him the Blues bench before the end of the 2022/23 IPL season.