Opinion: My take on Nuno, the rebuild and the 70-day manager search

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Nuno Espirito Santo
Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Image

The 72-day search for a new permanent head coach has finally reached its conclusion, with Spurs announcing Nuno Espirito Santo as their new man.

I wanted to take a moment to assess the decision, look ahead to the summer rebuild and reflect on a rather strange manager search.

I saw someone say the other day that many people would have taken Nuno if he had been announced in the final week of the season. I think he would have been underwhelming but agree that there certainly wouldn’t have been any hashtags against him.

In a way, the former Wolves boss has become a victim of the haphazard manager search in North London, which is in no way his fault. Therefore, I’m sure that even the most disappointed Spurs fans will come around and back him next season.

For me, the more I think about it, the more I am okay with his appointment. Three months ago, I had so much hope that Spurs could lure in a top-class young manager to make huge strides in the next few years.

Julian Nagelsmann, Brendan Rodgers, maybe even a Pochettino return. However, I also feel that once a club is not able to sign their top targets, they have to be very very careful.

It would have been a disaster for Spurs to panic and rush into a decision, handing someone they didn’t actually want that much a four or five-year deal, only to sack them soon after and face a huge pay-out.

What they have in Nuno is safety. He has Premier League experience. He was out of work so no payments were needed. He has a track record of being cautious when it comes to defending. And he is only on a two-year contract.

I think Nuno is essentially an admission from Levy and co that their top manager targets simply were not possible, so they have gone for the most experienced stop-gap possible. And I’m more than happy with that. It is sensible, albeit not exciting.

The next 12 months for Spurs is not about having a world-class manager to win the Premier League, it’s more about rebuilding, man management, increasing fitness and laying the foundations for growth again.

To make comparisons, I think that Nuno will be there to essentially do what Pochettino did in his first two years, then perhaps a bigger name will be hired to make the next step (challenging and winning).

We must remember that Fabio Paratici has also signed this summer. He represents the stable figure who will remain from manager to manager, ideally. Therefore, I expect the signings and the team to be built around his philosophies, meaning the transition between head coach changes will be less severe.

This gives Nuno a chance to come in, work with Paratici to develop a plan, transfer targets, a way of playing and a formation, much of which will continue beyond the Portuguese’s time at the club.

The point must also be made that Nuno could defy expectation, hit the ground running and be handed a far longer contract. In that respect, I really do see this as a win-win once you take into account the position Spurs find themselves in.

The squad does not warrant an Antonio Conte figure, just as Jose Mourinho struggled. The squad warrants a hard worker who is willing to do the dirty work and get the club back on track.

Although he has been defensive in recent years, we have seen attacking and free-flowing football from Nuno at times with Wolves, as well as during his Valencia and Porto spells. I wholeheartedly believe that Levy has instructed that he must play attractive and attacking football, I think that would have been a non-negotiable demand.

So, what we have is a likeable character who is known for getting the most out of his squad. Someone who can develop youngsters. Someone who can increase fitness. Someone who can grind out results. And someone who can perhaps represent the one step forward after a fair few back for Spurs in recent times.

I for one am fully behind Nuno and am looking forward to the new season ahead.

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1 COMMENT

  1. It’s crazy how patronising you are about Nuno. He has improved the players, points totals, goals scored and league standings of ALL the clubs he’s been at, and got Wolves (!) and Rio Ave (!!) into Europe, as well as a bankrupt Valencia back into the CL with their joint-highest La Liga points total (!!!). Compare this to Poch when he was appointed by Spurs – he had had a couple of mid-table finishes with Espanyol before he left them in dire straits at the foot of the table and then he got Southampton up to 8th – what’s so good about that. To talk about Nuno from the off as if he’s just a link in your chain tells you don’t even deserve the guy – he’s good enough to manage anyone imo.

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