Anyone with a touch to Middle Eastern football can tell that there were many expectations this season from Saudi club Ittihad Jeddah. The Tigers were making big moves on the transfer market, signing Brazilian Romarinho from Emirati Al-Jazira, Alexander Pesic from Crvena Zvezda, Moroccan-Dutch Kareem Al-Ahmadi from Feyenoord, brought back Fahed Al-Muwallad from his loan spell at Levante and hired Argentinean coach Ramon Diaz as the manager, in what was supposed to be the club's comeback season after years of watching their great rivals' – Al-Hilal Riyadh and Al-Ahli – backs.
With a squad worth almost 30 million euros & an investment of 26 million in the transfer market, Ittihad simply can’t produce a single victory since the beginning of the season.
It started bad with a loss to Al-Hilal in the Saudi Super Cup in London and continued with two losses in the first two match-days in the league. Diaz was sacked, and at the end of September the club signed former Croatia national team, Besiktas & West Ham United manager – Slaven Bilic. This move is yet to turn things around for the Jeddah mega-club.
After eleven match-days, the team is located in the last place of the Saudi Pro League, with only 2 points out of a possible 30. Ohod, who is ranked above them, are with 6.
Bilic, who’s resume includes making magic with the Croatian national team, setting stage for the breakthrough of players like Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic and the great team of 2018, as well as discovering Cenk Tosun, setting the foundations for the successful seasons of Besiktas, and leading West Ham United to some of their best Premier League moments in years - is now facing one of his career's biggest challenges: Taking one of the biggest clubs in the Middle East out of the relegation zone, and in the future back to it’s glory days.
Thumbnail photo by Saudi Pro League