What Went Wrong for Nuno at Spurs?

On the 30th of June, 2021, Tottenham appointed new manager Nuno Espirito Santo to take over for the start of the new season. In his first few games, things looked to be moving in a positive direction, and Nuno even won the Premier League Manager of the Month Award in August. However, just ten games into the season and with results not going his way, Nuno was sacked.

So, what exactly went wrong for Nuno at Tottenham, and was the appointment doomed from the start? Looking back, it seems like a gamble taken by Levy, much like playing slots at an online casino. Nuno was perhaps too conservative with his tactics, failing to gamble for the chance of success. Like some slots players, Nuno kept his bets low and avoided taking big risks, which is at odds with the attacking philosophy that the fans expect. 

When Nuno came into the job, tasked with taking over from Mourinho, there was some scepticism from fans despite the good work he had done at Wolves since he first arrived in the Premier League. 

What Led to Nuno’s Sacking?

Following the 3-0 loss to Manchester United on Saturday the 30th of October, chairman Daniel Levy made the decision to remove Nuno from his position. The decision was made following a series of poor results, with the Portuguese manager taking the fall for the team’s drab and uninspiring performances since the start of the season.

So far, Spurs have lost half of their Premier League games this season, as well as points in the Europa League against the likes of Rennes and Vitesse. Perhaps more worryingly, they’ve failed to provide any kind of danger going forward, scoring just nine goals and conceding sixteen. This is considerably fewer goals scored than other teams around them in the table and less even than many of the relegation candidates.  

One of the most worrying areas for Spurs fans has been the lack of form for Harry Kane, who scored just one league goal under Nuno. While this might be blamed on the summer’s transfer saga, the manager and his tactics definitely played a part, leaving the forward lacking service. 

Was Nuno the Right Choice?

Immediately after Nuno was sacked, many started to question whether he had been the right candidate, to begin with. Levy and the board spent ten weeks looking for a replacement for Jose Mourinho after he was removed from his position as head coach in April 2021. 

Fabio Paratici was brought in as Director of Football in June and undoubtedly had a say in the managerial search, but it was Levy who claimed that they were looking for someone who would bring “free-flowing, attacking and entertaining football” back to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Tottenham considered multiple candidates for the role of head coach, courting Hansi Flick, Erik ten Hag and even considering a return from Mauricio Pochettino. There were also talks with Paulo Fonseca, Antonio Conte and Gennaro Gattuso, but all of these broke down. Eventually, the club settled on Nuno Espirito Santo, who had been let go by Wolves at the end of the season. 

As Tottenham’s eventual 7th choice candidate, things were never going to be easy for Nuno, and his style of football was never what Levy and the board had in mind. Although the team initially looked more defensively compact than before, the wheels quickly started falling off and ultimately, it seems the appointment was a poor choice. 

Where Do Spurs Go from Here?

After sacking Nuno at the end of October, the board moved quickly to appoint Antonio Conte, this time apparently giving in to his demands to help bring the team in line with his vision of success. It has to be classed as one of the biggest blunders of Levy’s reign to not simply give Conte what he wanted to begin with. As a world-class coach and someone that has won six titles in nine seasons over his managerial career, he is exactly what Spurs need to get back on top. Despite this, there are some fears that his abrasive approach will spell fireworks with the board, but that remains to be seen.  



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