Opinion: Doing your homework

Nuno Espirito Santo
Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

I really agonised over whether to pen this article after 6 games (10 if you count the cup games) but I am hoping by going to print it may somehow help me put into perspective what is going on at the club right now.

I don’t do knee-jerk reactions and have always tried to stick to the old adage of “not getting too high with the highs and too low with the lows” but Sunday hurt.  It was the North London derby and we were lucky to limit Arsenal to just 3 goals.

I firmly believe that only Spurs would be able to achieve the impossible of being top of the league and 3 games later losing to the team who was rock bottom after the same 3 games.

I am in no way advocating a change of manager this early into the season but I would be lying if I was to say the alarm bells aren’t ringing.  Following his appointment Nuno would have hoped to have gone on to have a record breaking spell.  At the moment the only record appearing to be under threat is the 13 game spell that Jacques Santini managed in 2004.

Of the 10 games played this season, Spurs have only turned up in couple.  The win against Manchester City had Spurs fans purring.  They had outfoxed Pep Guardiola again and there was a feeling that, after a summer of turmoil a cloud had been lifted.

Workmanlike victories against Wolves and Watford left Spurs top of the pile.  Although they had laboured in these games very few people were complaining.  After all if you can win playing badly…………

The problem was they haven’t played well since and 9 goals conceded in the three league defeats suggests Nuno is already facing a turnaround of epic ‘Evergreen’ like proportions.

You could argue that against Crystal Palace and Chelsea key moments in the game went against us and certainly against Chelsea we put in a decent showing in the first half.  Against Arsenal I am finding no positives whatsoever.  We won the second half one nil you may say – Arsenal had the job done by half time and had lit the cigars.

Looking at the line ups before the game there probably wouldn’t have been too many Arsenal players you would have picked to get into the Spurs team.  After the game however Spurs would have been envious of the youthful exuberance and togetherness that the Gunners showed.  They produced their best performance of the season and repaid their managers faith in them.

The style of the capitulation reminded me of the last few games under AVB when we were carved open at will.  It was obvious then that the players had stopped playing for the manager.  I always struggle with the notion that £200k-a-week players can decide whether to turn up or not – to suspect that this is the case after just 10 games is mind boggling.

When buying a new house you should always research the area and not just buy what you see in front on you.  We were always led to believe in a similar way that the Club did their homework (particularly Poch) when signing new players.  Looking at temperament as well as skill and seeing how they would integrate to the squad.  We clearly failed in this regard with our record signing Tanguy Ndombele, please tell me that there aren’t significant gaps in our due diligence of the new manager?

The first few press conferences were conducted in good spirits by the new manager, much like his counterpart Jose Mourinho, but latterly he has become far more insular and surly.

After the 3 wins and with Spurs sitting top of the league, reports circulated that the players weren’t overly taken with Nuno’s man management (Daily Mail).  At the time I took this with pinch of salt………

Nuno’s post-match comments yesterday could have been construed as suggesting that the players disregarded his pre-game instructions.  Lucas Moura also made a cryptic comment about too many long balls.  If the players are taking it upon themselves to ‘do their own thing’ and not buying into the new manager’s vision and philosophy then we have serious issues.

The other theory is that the Kane saga has left some irreparable differences in the dressing room – if this is the case no change of manager can repair this.  The players, with the help of Nuno will need to find a way through this and fast.

The ironic thing is that Steve Hitchen the man Spurs fans love to hate and often the fall guy is now smelling of roses.  We are led to believe that Mr Hitchen had produced a shortlist littered with managers playing attacking football.  One of these, Paulo Fonseca even alleges that he had a deal agreed with Spurs and was planning pre-season only to have a disagreement with Sporting Director Fabio Paratici and drop out of the race in favour of the more defensive coach Nuno (Telegraph).

If we are to believe reports the Italian had to convince Daniel Levy that Nuno, despite being the gazillionth choice was the man to oversee the rebuild and lead Spurs into a bright ‘Pochettino-esque era’

At Wolves, Nuno had the most success playing a 3-5-2 with attacking wing backs, making Matt Doherty look like Cafu in the process.  At Spurs he seems to favour a 4-3-3 that simply doesn’t seem to work with the personnel available.  It may sound far-fetched but if Nuno is being forced to play a formation that doesn’t suit his coaching style (in the pursuit of the attacking football that is supposedly in our DNA) then we are doomed to failure.

The only time this has threatened to work has been when you have Son, Bergwijn and Moura interchanging.  The big flaw here is that this didn’t involve Harry Kane.  Having battled all summer to keep one of the best strikers in the world, surely he needs to start and you need to find a system that will get the best out of him.

The Europa Conference League game in Portugal was strange for a number of reasons but the fact that Nuno travelled without his assistant Ian Cathro looked a very odd decision.  While I have no doubt that Cathro is a talented coach, Nuno looks lost on the touchline at times.  Historically Spurs have had some strong characters as coaches namely Joe Jordan and Gus Poyet to name a couple.  If there are ‘man management’ issues then maybe an assistant to act as a conduit between the manager and players may not be a bad move.  The backroom team does look light.

The good thing about football is ‘you are only as good as your last game’ and there is always another fixture around the corner to try to right the wrongs.  Fortunes can change very quickly as our first 6 league games have shown.  The good news is it is at home, the bad news is it is against Aston Villa who have just won at Old Trafford!

Get a result and show some signs of recovery and the fans will soon be back on side.  Lose on Sunday and it will be a very uncomfortable afternoon for the manager.  COYS 

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