The inside story of Nuno Espirito Santo's doomed reign at Spurs

Sacked Spurs boss Nuno was glum around the training ground, blunt and short with players and SHOCKED them with his lack of match preparation: The inside story on his doomed 124-day reign

  • Nuno Espirito Santo’s 124-day tenure at Spurs was filled with disappointments 
  • Players were underwhelmed by the Portuguese’s lack of detail during training  
  • The squad also knew that Nuno was not Daniel Levy’s first choice as manager
  • Nuno’s manner around the training ground and with staff also failed to impress 

Underprepared, undervalued, underwhelming: three words to encapsulate Nuno Espirito Santo’s 124 days in charge of Tottenham.

As the players were informed of his sacking just after 9.20am on Monday, there was little surprise. It unravelled quicker than expected but they knew this was coming from the moment he was named Jose Mourinho’s successor in June.

Tottenham thought they were appointing a head coach who was meticulous in his preparation for games, someone who prided himself on attention to detail.

Spurs thought they had appointed a meticulous head coach but the result was far different

The reality was rather different. Players were often shocked at the lack of game-specific drills they were asked to undertake in training sessions ahead of matches.

The 3-1 north London derby defeat by Arsenal was a low point. Arsenal were particularly good that day but Spurs were particularly bad. There were concerns from the players as they got off the bus that they would be vulnerable due to the lack of game-led sessions in the days before the game.

It showed — they were 3-0 down at half-time. Nuno shifted the blame on to his players, saying: ‘When you have a game plan, you have to make the right decisions in terms of who you want to put on the pitch. I take responsibility because the decisions were not right. I won’t name individuals but the game plan was not right according to the players who were on the pitch.’

The North Londoners parted ways with the Portuguese after their 3-0 defeat to Man United 

The Spurs squad were left concerned by the Portuguese’s lack of in-game drills during training

But many behind the scenes knew who was to blame for the loss — and it wasn’t the players.

There was a similar feeling ahead of last week’s Carabao Cup win over Burnley, with the players boarding their flight unclear of what the starting XI would be or what the game plan was.

Indeed, there was a sense among the squad that the only tactic was simply: ‘Work hard, stay disciplined and Harry or Son will score.’

It sounds workable but not when one half of your strike duo isn’t scoring and looks uninterested.

Had Harry Kane shown better form then perhaps Nuno wouldn’t be out of a job. Equally, an over-reliance on two players, as gifted as they are, is not the way forward.

It all raises the question as to why Nuno didn’t implement the three-at-the-back system he used so effectively at Wolves. Perhaps he wanted to prove something? Perhaps there was pressure to play with a style and system in keeping with Spurs’ attacking traditions?

Undervalued? The players knew Nuno wasn’t the man Daniel Levy wanted. He wasn’t second choice. He wasn’t even seventh choice.

Nuno blamed the players after their defeat at Arsenal but the squad felt the fault lied with him

The Portuguese was short and blunt around the training ground and was often glum

It would have been hard for any manager to walk into a dressing room and command authority when the recruitment process that led to his appointment undermined him from the start.

The fact that Nuno was offered a mere two-year contract hardly suggested the club had total conviction in their appointment. Players aren’t stupid. Tottenham clearly weren’t sure they were appointing the right man, so why would the players be convinced?

That said, Nuno didn’t help himself. He was said to be glum around the training ground, his communication with players and staff a particular bugbear. His conversations were often unnecessarily short and blunt.

Underwhelming? Of course, the primary reason Nuno has been sacked is results. Five defeats in 10 league games makes sorry reading.

Above all else, Tottenham were turgid under Nuno. An awful watch. Saturday’s 3-0 defeat by Manchester United was one stodgy showing too far for the fans, who made their feelings clear. As has Levy.

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