The mood among Spurs fans was at its highest in a long time after a Harry Kane-less victory over Manchester City on Sunday raised hopes of breaking back into the Champions League, a position the club consistently occupied under Mauricio Pochettino.
During a hectic summer of uncertainty that looks as though it will rumble on to deadline day and possibly beyond, Spurs’ recruitment has been focussed on improving the defensive areas of the pitch.
This means that, aside from the signing of 20-year-old winger Bryan Gil from Sevilla, Nuno Espirito Santo will be working with the same attacking tools as his predecessor Jose Mourinho, provided Harry Kane stays at the club.
Spurs have always been able to rely on Kane and Son Heung-Min when it comes to getting on the scoresheet, with the pair bagging 40 in the league between them last season.
But it is the final piece of this attacking jigsaw that has been missing for some time now and could puzzle Nuno as he gets to grips with his new squad.
Before Gareth Bale’s late-season flourish last season that saw him score 6 in the final 6 league games, Kane and Son were given virtually no assistance by Spurs’ other forwards.
Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn and the now-departed Erik Lamela and Carlos Vinicius registered just 6 league goals between them.
With Moura scoring only 4 times the previous season and Bergwijn just 3, this is by no means a new problem for the club but one that needs to be resolved if the Lilywhites are to return to the top table of European football.
Last season, Man City had 7 players score 5 or more goals in the league with Chelsea having 5 and Man Utd 4. Bale was the only Spurs player outside of Son and Kane to surpass this target.
With no replacement seemingly lined up for the Madrid-bound Welshman, it is perhaps time for Nuno to devote more attention to attack than defence.
The former Wolves manager has more of a chance than most at finding another consistent goal scorer to add to Spurs’ frontline without having to make a signing, given his track record of improving wingers’ fortunes at his previous job.
Under his tutelage, the careers of Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence came on leaps and bounds while Adama Traore went from a Championship player to a member of Spain’s Euro 2020 squad, and Diogo Jota secured a £40 million move to Liverpool.
These players excelled at Molineux by being given the opportunity to exploit their pace and skill alongside talismanic no. 9 Raul Jimenez. If Nuno can get Bergwijn and Moura clicking with Kane in the same way, Spurs would find themselves in a better position going forward.
Lucas Moura’s game, in particular, would be most malleable to this tactical approach, as his ability to go past players is comparable to that of Wolves’ wide men and he has shown flashes of breaking out as a top-level Premier League player without ever finding the consistency.
Bergwijn clearly has potential but is currently missing that cutting edge in the final third, a quality which Nuno has to instil in the Dutchman this season if he is to truly make it at this level.
Then there is the new man Bryan Gil, who has featured 3 times for Spain and won a silver medal at Tokyo 2020 but is largely an unknown entity and cannot be relied upon at present.
As Spurs fans focus on the Harry Kane saga and defensive acquisitions, as well as naturally getting carried away following the win over City, the concerns regarding the right side of attack should not be swept under the carpet.
Under Nuno, there is every chance that one of several candidates cements the vacancy in the front three as their own.
If no one steps up to alleviate the pressure on Kane and Son, however, Spurs may once again be left on the outside looking in at the Champions League next season.
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