View from the terraces

Where did it all go wrong for Nuno Espírito Santo at Tottenham?

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte faces an uphill struggle

Not long after sacking José Mourinho in April, Daniel Levy assured Tottenham’s fans that the club’s next manager would be a very different animal. His replacement, the chairman implied, would favour “free-flowing, attacking” football, not the defensive-minded tactics favoured by Mourinho. But what did Levy then go and do, asked Jason Burt in The Daily Telegraph. He “went out and hired Nuno Espírito Santo” – a man renowned for being a “Mourinho-lite character whose first impulse is how to stop the opposition”. Sure enough, it didn’t work out. After a string of uninspiring performances – culminating in a 3-0 home thrashing by Manchester United last weekend – the Portuguese was sacked on Monday. 

“Nuno’s tenure began splendidly,” said Alyson Rudd in The Times: he won his first three Premier League matches; in August he was named manager of the month. But the defeats quickly mounted. Tottenham have lost five of their last seven Premier League games. Players are starting to look “forlorn” and the fans are volubly dissatisfied.

In view of all this, Levy had little choice but to sack Nuno, said Jonathan Wilson in The Guardian. Yet it is far from clear that his departure will make much difference. The roots of Tottenham’s current malaise lie in decisions taken further back, and mainly by Levy himself. Obsessed with securing “big-club status”, he poured money into building a magnificent new stadium instead of investing properly in players. He replaced the excellent Mauricio Pochettino with a “big-club manager” – Mourinho – and refused to go ahead with selling Harry Kane (another symbol of “big-clubdom”), even though the striker was desperate to leave. Nuno’s replacement has now been revealed as former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. He faces an uphill struggle.

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