Sorting Harry Kane’s future is the No 1 priority but getting the best out of Matt Doherty, winning fans over and building a strong relationship with Fabio Paratici will be crucial – Nuno Espirito Santo’s to-do list after taking charge at Tottenham
- Spurs’ managerial search is over with the appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo
- The ex-Wolves boss arrives with plenty to sort out with pre-season approaching
- Harry Kane’s future is the Portuguese’s No 1 priority with the star wanting out
- He must also reignite the career of out-of-form stars and win over the fans
- Sportsmail sets out Nuno’s in-tray as he picks up the pieces in North London
After what has felt like football’s most farcical search for a new manager, Tottenham have finally found the man to succeed Jose Mourinho.
Julian Nagelsmann, Brendan Rodgers, Erik ten Hag, Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Conte, Paulo Fonseca, Gennaro Gattuso and Julien Lopetegui had all been linked with the vacancy in the space of a whirlwind 72 days. Finally, Spurs landed on Nuno Espirito Santo.
The Portuguese, 47, arrives as the club’s ninth choice manager to take the gig, but the softly-spoken former goalkeeper will be confident that he has what it takes to get the underperforming north Londoners back up the league table.
After a prolonged search, Tottenham Hotspur have finally announced their new manager
Nuno worked miracles at Wolves, where he took the club from 15th in the Championship to back-to-back seventh place finishes in the top flight and a Europa League quarter final.
The former Porto and Valencia boss left Molineux by ‘mutual agreement’ at the end of last season, amid speculation that the Portuguese wished to take a break from football after an exhausting campaign.
However, Nuno has made an immediate return to the game and has his work cut out in picking up the pieces from Mourinho’s disastrous spell at the club. Here, Sportsmail takes a look at the 47-year-old’s in-tray as he gets to work.
Nuno Espirito Santo has plenty to get to work on after taking the north London vacancy
Sort Harry Kane’s future out
Nuno’s No 1 priority is to sort out the future of Harry Kane. After years of falling short of the top prizes, the England captain has indicated his desire to leave his boyhood this summer, with Manchester City strongly linked with the 28-year-old.
But here’s the main catch – Nuno has been told that their star man will not be sold this summer, unless £150m is put on the table.
With three years remaining on his deal, Spurs are under no pressure to sell their talisman and, ultimately, chairman Daniel Levy will have the final say on Kane’s future.
It now appears that only an extraordinary offer will spark a change of heart from Tottenham with the club determined for Kane to lead the team forward under the Portuguese.
Nuno will be keen to gauge where Kane’s head is at, though. The striker is currently on international duty with England but will no doubt be keeping a close eye on events at his club.
Kane can turn to international team-mate Conor Coady to get the lowdown on Nuno. The Wolves captain’s career was transformed by the Portuguese coach and will surely be full of praise for the 47-year-old.
Harry Kane has expressed his desire to leave and this is Nuno’s top priority upon arrival
Kane will likely receive a glowing report of Nuno from Wolves star Conor Coady with England
But at 28, time is not on Kane’s side and just as Nuno will wish to assess the centre forward’s frame of mind, Kane will be eager to run the rule over his new manager.
Nuno never had to contend with wantaway players in his Wolves dressing room and will be keen to ensure that he is on the same wavelength as his biggest star.
Get the best out of Doherty again
Nuno’s success at Wolves was often followed with a Jorge Mendes-shaped asterisk.
The super-agent’s strong relationship with the club’s Chinese owners paved the way for the likes of Ruben Neves, Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez to join the club, a factor that left rival fans miffed and dismissive of the club’s achievements.
Yet Nuno’s development of previously mediocre players was as significant as the mega-money signings that walked through the door at Compton.
Matt Doherty’s performances have plummeted since joining Spurs from Wolves last summer
Nuno transformed Doherty’s career from average second tier defender to top flight star
Matt Doherty was the feel-good story of Nuno’s Wolves era. A £75,000 signing from Bohemians, the Irishman was plateauing in the Championship until Nuno transformed his fortunes by making him a dynamic wing back.
Doherty joined Spurs for £15m last summer and has failed to emulate his displays for Wolves at his new club, but the 29-year-old will surely be excited at the prospect of reuniting with his former boss, especially if he implements his back three system.
The full back is not the only Spurs man in need of a kickstart to his career. Dele Alli, Tanguy Ndombele and Eric Dier all endured ups and downs under Mourinho and will hope that Nuno can galvanise their careers as he did for Doherty and Coady.
Other Spurs stars such as Eric Dier (L) and Dele Alli (R) will hope for a similar turn in fortunes
Unite divided dressing room
In the space of 19 months, the strong team harmony that Pochettino fostered had been ripped apart by Mourinho as Spurs lurched from crisis to crisis under the demanding Portuguese coach.
Hugo Lloris lifted the lid on a divided dressing room in the wake of the club’s disastrous Europa League exit to Dinamo Zagreb.
Hugo Lloris hinted at dressing room unrest following their disastrous Europa League exit
‘We had a great moment in the past because we could trust the togetherness that was in the team. Today, I’m not sure about that.’
Nuno must restore calm in Spurs’ restless dressing room. The Portuguese, alongside his loyal backroom staff, garnered a tremendously strong team spirit at Wolves and Valencia.
Julio Figueroa had plenty to do with that. The Argentine, 56, worked with Nuno in the West Midlands and Spain and his expertise in sports psychology has helped bring dressing rooms together.
Adama Traore’s upturn in form at Wolves can be attributed greatly to the Argentine’s guidance and positive thinking. It remains to be seen whether Nuno is afforded the same backroom staff he had at Molineux.
Nuno garnered a strong team spirit at Wolves and was loved by all of his players at the club
Assistant Julio Figueroa helped with sports psychology yet Nuno’s backroom staff is not known
His preference for small squads also helps in bringing teams together, with every player fully aware of his role within the group. Nuno must set about ensuring that his full squad feel valued and buy into his vision.
Win over fans with attacking style of football (you are NOT Jose 2.0!)
When the likes of Nagelsmann, ten Hag and Conte are linked with your club, it is understandable to feel slightly underwhelmed by the appointment of a manager who has just guided his side to a 13th place finish.
Moreover, having suffered through Mourinho’s turgid football, Nuno’s desire to build from the back has seen Spurs fans draw comparisons between the two Portuguese coaches.
Supporters have had to endure turgid football under Mourinho for 19 months in north London
Nuno’s style has unfairly been compared to Mourinho’s after a stagnant 2020-21 campaign
The Wolves of 2020-21 were, without question, one of the least attractive sides to watch in the Premier League. Riddled by injuries and fatigue from a marathon 19-20 campaign, Nuno went safety first to ensure that his side were not dragged into a relegation battle.
Now, he must return to the thrilling style that earned back-to-back seventh place finishes in the top flight.
On their day, Wolves played some of the most exciting football in the top flight, and Spurs fans will remember the 3-2 defeat to Wolves in March 2020, where Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota and Traore combined to great effect in tearing through the north Londoners’ feeble defence.
However, Wolves played great football under the Portuguese and Spurs will hope for the same
Nuno meticulously drilled attacking patterns of play into his Wolves players in their tried and trusted 3-4-3 system. He now has better players at his disposal and as a result will be expected to play a more expansive, free-flowing style to appease fans.
It is a results business, of course, but Spurs fans would give the Portuguese the benefit of the doubt in the event of a slow start if they see signs of the attacking football that Mourinho starved them of.
Repair Spurs’ leaky defence
Nuno has his work cut out in repairing Spurs’ ropey defence. Mourinho’s back four were often all at sea throughout 2020-21, leading to high-profile defeats to the likes of Brighton, Aston Villa and West Ham.
It will be of no surprise, then, that the club have been strongly linked with defenders this summer. Milan Skriniar of Inter Milan has been a target for some time while Joules Kounde would be an inspired signing from Sevilla.
Nuno likes to build from the back and he has a lot of work to do to repair Spurs’ defence
Mourinho could not settle on a consistent back four and as a result, Spurs shipped goals
Mourinho was indecisive in his back line and his regular changes to personnel meant that his defence were unable to find a rhythm. At Wolves, Nuno had huge success with a settled back five of Jonny Otto, Willy Boly, Conor Coady, Ryan Bennett and Doherty.
In fact, the Irishman revealed that Nuno’s tactical astuteness often left the dressing room feeling invincible before matches.
‘Tactically we leave meetings before games thinking “there is no way we cannot win this game”,’ he told the Express and Star.
Doherty recalled how Nuno leaves his players completely confident in their tactical roles
‘That is what he does. You leave the meeting and think “I know how to beat them. We know they cannot get through us”. So tactically I think he is on another level. He is a world class manager and his man management skills are also excellent.’
Nuno will be keen to instil that same confidence among his new squad and that begins with putting together a strong defence to build from.
Build relationship with Paratici and overhaul squad
It is fair to say that Spurs managers in years gone by have found it difficult to strike a good relationship with Levy. Pochettino was able to not only win the support of the fanbase but also find a connection with the shrewd chairman.
The landscape is slightly different for Nuno, however, with the appointment of Fabio Paratici as sporting director.
Nuno will need to work closely with the former Juventus chief over transfer targets and other football related matters, but will be familiar with the dynamic having worked under similar conditions at Molineux.
While Spurs fans will be eager for shiny new signings to arrive in north London, Nuno and Paratici must set about overhauling the squad. Funds appear limited, so wholesale changes may not be doable.
While fans are excited over new signings, Nuno will have to whittle down his squad of players
Nuno must form a strong bond with Fabio Paratici if he is to realise his long-term Spurs vision
The likes of Moussa Sissoko, Serge Aurier, Ben Davies, Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier, Lucas Moura, Harry Winks and Erik Lamela have fallen short of their top form for some time, with supporters open to the prospect of their exits.
Nuno must sort the wheat from the chaff when pre-season gets under way in a matter of days, and does not have a great deal of time to discover which players will feature heavily in his plans.
Paratici will be crucial in helping execute Nuno’s long term vision for Spurs, so a strong relationship between the pair is critical for the Portuguese’s success.
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