Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq future: Saudi club extends ties with underperforming manager

Saudi Arabia was once a small blip on the football radar. Until recently, the Saudi Pro League was a hidden gem in the world of football. With 18 teams battling each other at least twice and playing nearly 34 matches in a year since 1976, the league was on course to follow the fool-proof blue-print of every major European league, aiming to be among the likes of them one day in the distant future.

But the arrival of five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo in January 2023 fuelled up the process and the Saudi Pro League emerged as one of the most promising and multimillion-dollar leagues in the world. In the midst of all of that, Steven Gerrard signed as the new manager of Al-Etiffaq FC after stints at Liverpool FC, Rangers and Aston Villa. Six months into his appointment, though, there are doubts regarding his expertise in the field, though the management has still shown faith in him.

Al-Ettifaq extends Steven Gerrard’s Saudi stay

After just 6 months of signing a new contract with Al-Ettifaq as a manager, Steven Gerrard has reportedly signed a 2-year contract extension with the Saudi side. The terms of the new contract are set to expire in 2027, with the promise of continued commitment towards signings and the development of the players from the management side.

Just 6 months after former Manchester United player Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr, the league went through a drastic renaissance when literally half of Europe’s greats, including Benzema, Kanté, Koulibaly, Neves, Firmino and Neymar, followed the former Real Madrid player to the Saudi League, thus boosting Saudi Arabia’s clear vision of becoming one of the top ten leagues in the world and eventually hosting the 2030 World Cup.

Saudi club Al-Ettifaq, under the leadership of one of Liverpool’s greatest players ever, Steven Gerrard, also signed some iconic European talents, including former Liverpool teammate Jordan Henderson, Everton’s winger Demarai Gray, and another former Liverpool player, Georginio Wijnaldum.

Saudi outfit’s dry spell continues under Steven Gerrard

Despite having signed such great talents from Europe, Steven Gerrard has not been able to bring his team on the right path even after six months into his tenure. Although the spending by the Al-Ettifaq board can’t match the likes of teams such as Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad, who are no longer just household names in Saudi Arabia but have become household names all over the world, the expectations for Steven Gerrard were much better than what his team has been performing since late.

After playing 19 matches this year, the team has won only six games, getting only 25 points on the board and is still 28 points behind table-toppers Al-Hilal. The team has not won any of their last nine matches in all competitions and is on a really bad streak of not winning matches. They last won on October 28, 2023, against Al-Wehda, nearly three months ago and are eyeing their first win in nine matches against 10th-placed Al-Khaleej on February 15, 2024.

Despite the tragic form of the team, the Al-Ettifaq management has shown faith in the manager and renewed his contract for two more seasons, thus pointing towards commitment with more spending on transfers and development to help manager Steven Gerrard get results in their favor.

Though these are still early days, if the team’s form doesn’t pick up pace after the January transfer window, surely then, the club might think about looking elsewhere for the managerial role.


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