Tottenham Hotspur

Nuno Espirito Santo needs to stand by Spurs' new stars to get rebuild back on track

By Sean Walsh
Nuno handed Cristian Romero his second Premier League start on Sunday
Nuno handed Cristian Romero his second Premier League start on Sunday / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Few coaches will have been hit harder by the famed 'manager of the month curse' than Nuno Espirito Santo.

After winning his first three Premier League games in charge of Tottenham, Nuno's side lost three successive London derbies, conceding three in each of them. Maybe it isn't such a magic number.

Spurs managed to stop the rot with a convincing 2-1 win at home to Aston Villa to head into the October internationals on a high. But just as things started looking rosy for Nuno, it was reported on Monday that there is a break clause in his contract should he fail to finish in the top six this season.

Now that's obviously not new to Nuno, who after all has read his own contract back to front and signed the thing himself, but the timing of it reaching the public domain surely won't fill him with confidence.

The world now knows that there was indeed hesitance in hiring him, even after Daniel Levy whittled his way through several managers on his shortlist and was left with few other options. There is a belief that things have at least half a chance of going awry, enough to be able to relieve Nuno of his duties without having to pay compensation.

Undoubtedly he will head to his next press conference and insist he's not thinking about the clause, that he and his players will continue to work and train in order to better themselves. Spurs showed small signs of turning a new leaf against Villa, with two of their summer signings - Cristian Romero and Emerson Royal - among the top performers.

The South American duo did not start in the ill-fated north London derby at Arsenal a week prior, a move which seemed questionable. In fact, nine of the 11 starters that day had played under Mauricio Pochettino.

You already know where I'm going with this Spurs fans. I know you're getting cold sweats thinking about it.

The 'painful rebuild'.

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Yep, we're back here again, but let's cut to the chase.

It feels like part of the reason Spurs continue to be suffering from this post-Champions League final hangover is the lack of fresh blood in the squad, which hasn't been helped with the appointment of two conservative coaches since.

The players the club have signed in the last couple of years have generally been okay - 90min crowned Tottenham as the winners of the 2020 summer transfer window for all of those revisionists who insist Jose Mourinho wasn't backed.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is now a key member of the squad, Sergio Reguilon is one of the better players on Spurs' books, and Joe Rodon is showing real promise. 2021 signings Romero, Emerson and Bryan Gil have all provided glimpses of brilliance, too. Oliver Skipp is like a new signing.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Oliver Skipp, Mateo Kovacic
Hojbjerg and Skipp need to be part of Spurs' spine / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

With fans away from stadiums for much of the last 12 months, these players represent a blank canvas and don't carry the baggage, the clearest indication that a rebuild is underway, and that is why their minutes should be prioritised.

Mourinho found a winning formula by getting the very best out of Spurs' two world class attackers. Nuno's yet to find get that combination really ticking but there shouldn't ever be a shortage of goals, and what he does with the rest of the team should revolve around those easiest to imprint new ideas on.

It surely couldn't be any worse than what their performances in September looked like.

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