As Lucas Moura smashed the ball past Andre Onana in the Ajax goal to send Tottenham through to the Champions League final in 2019, things were looking up. After years of being the banter club, Spurs were heading to a major European final.
The quartet of Harry Kane, Heung Min-Son, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli was firing on all cylinders ably backed by a support cast of Moura, Llorente et al. Most importantly, they had one of the most exciting and sought-after managers at the helm in the form of Mauricio Pochettino.
⚽️ Teddy Sheringham
⚽️ Robbie Keane
⚽️ Jermain Defoe
⚽️ Harry Kane
⚽️ Christian Eriksen
⚽️ Son Heung-Min
Dele Alli has joined a very exclusive club of players who have scored 50 Premier League goals for Spurs! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/vLc3zSVDox
— 90min (@90min_Football) March 7, 2020
That was then and this is now. Spurs will not be playing the Europa League next season let alone the Champions League. Pochettino was sacked. Eriksen has left, Kane wants to leave, and Alli might as well leave. They sacked Poch’s replacement Jose Mourinho a week before their League Cup final in April and were unable to find a replacement for an embarrassingly long time.
WHY COULDN’T SPURS FIND A MANAGER
What was one of the most exciting squads under Pochettino quickly became one of the most imbalanced ones under Mourinho. The fault does not necessarily lie at the food of the Portuguese – Daniel Levy and the club as a whole have no footballing direction. The lack of a technical and sporting director has hurt Spurs a lot over the past couple of years. They have corrected it in part by appointing Fabio Paratici as Director of Football but the move has come very late.
The team relies heavily upon Kane and if he leaves then replacing him will not be an easy task at all. There is deadwood in all positions with the likes of Serge Aurier, Erik Lamela and Eric Dier still at the club. Coming in to deal with this mess and building a new project from scratch is not exactly an exciting proposition for managers.
Tottenham's managerial search was a WHIRLWIND😵💫
Managers rumored to be in contention included:
– Paulo Fonseca
– Antonio Conte
– Gennaro Gattuso
– Mauricio Pochettino
– Erik Ten Hag
– Graham Potter
– Scott Parker
In the end, Spurs found their man in Nuno 👍 pic.twitter.com/GKFuNaZ9pX
— International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCup) June 30, 2021
Tottenham are also in a poor position financially. Moreover, the club’s head Daniel Levy is not exactly known for his kindness and generosity. There is not a big war chest for rebuilding the club with Spurs having to take a 175 million GBP loan earlier this year to help tide over the impact of the pandemic. It is no surprise that Antonio Conte, Paulo Fonseca and Gennar Gattuso all said no to the job at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
IS NUNO THE RIGHT MAN?
It was a rather innocuous announcement from Spurs that former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo will be their new manager. And the lack of a marching band was for good reason – the Lilywhites faithful do not want Nuno at the helm.
✍️ Welcome to Tottenham Hotspur, Nuno Espírito Santo.#WelcomeNuno
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) June 30, 2021
Apart from a Championship title with Wolves, he does not have a track record as a trophy winner. Even that Championship win came with a squad that was miles ahead of the rest of the division in terms of budget and quality. His Wolves side impressed everyone with their stubborn performances after being promoted to the Premier League but expectations will be different at Spurs.
The club yearns for a trophy. Pochettino could not do it. Mourinho could not do it. Before them, Harry Redknapp, Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood could not do it. Even if Nuno cannot win Spurs a trophy, his main task would be to restore joy to the club after the grumpy doom and gloom tenure of Mourinho.
2008 – @SpursOfficial’s last major trophy win came in the League Cup back in 2008, beating Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley. This is their third appearance in the final since then, losing against Manchester United in 2009 and Chelsea in 2015. Occasion. #CarabaoCupFinal #MCITOT pic.twitter.com/ed0l16X0uW
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 25, 2021
But therein lies the problem. Nuno and Mourinho are managers cut from the same cloth, even Santo’s fabric is softer and less flashier. The incoming boss does not play a free-flowing attacking style and his base is frustrating the opponents first. Spurs fans have experienced the same pedestrian brand for the past season and a half under Mourinho and were hoping for something new after his departure.
WHERE DO SPURS GO FROM HERE
The first step is of course, acceptance. Tottenham and its fans need to accept that their short lived stint amongst the European elite is over. They do not have the grandeur, the financial power or top level of European football to attract the best of players and so they must start moving smartly in the transfer market.
Is maybe that the reason why Nuno was hired? Well, it is hard to say. At Wolves he benefited from the dual representation loophole that allowed superagent Jorge Mendes to have part ownership of the club and bring in many players whom he represented. Tottenham obviously do not have that advantage and it is impossible to predict the kind of recruitment the club will undertake under Santo.
Jorge Mendes did not represent Trincao before transfer from Braga to Barcelona, but in moving the player between those two clubs where he has strong ties, he received €7m in commission from €30.9m transfer (22% of the deal). Now being loaned to Wolves. https://t.co/ymY4bsHs9y https://t.co/fhhRHSAIfv
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) July 4, 2021
Spurs fans for their part tried to trend #NoToNuno on social media when the news of his imminent announcement broke but it was futile. The club did not really have any big options with experience in the Premier League and Nuno is perhaps the best they could have done.
One full season under Mourinho has undone all of Poch’s work and the club has regressed back to where they were at the start of the previous decade. Nuno is a great manager but it would be a huge surprise to everyone if Spurs were to become a remotely successful side under him.