Nuno made to wait
The pressure on Nuno Espirito Santo’s shoulders has intensified to new levels following Tottenham’s humiliating 3-0 defeat at home to Manchester United.
Going into the fixture in desperate need of a win due to the team’s mixed form over the past two months, it was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who came out on top six days on from his team’s 5-0 humbling against great rivals Liverpool.
The Red Devils weren’t exactly at the top of their game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday evening, although they didn’t need to be with the Lilywhites way off it on such an important night for Espirito Santo and his team.
Perhaps unlucky not to go in level at the break with Hugo Lloris only having Fred’s long-range effort to save prior to Cristiano Ronaldo’s sublime strike in the 39th minute, Spurs themselves didn’t muster many openings as David de Gea was kept rather quiet with Son Heung-min wasting their best chance early on.
Twenty minutes after the restart and the team had a mountain to climb as Edinson Cavani finished off Ronaldo’s pass after Bruno Fernandes had robbed Oliver Skipp of the ball.
Not even forcing De Gea into action before or after the Uruguayan had doubled the lead, Marcus Rashford added another four minutes from time as he capitalised on a gaping hole at the back with Cristian Romero over on the right to slot beyond Lloris.
Speaking in his post-match press conference after the game, Espirito Santo was asked if his message is not getting through to the players or it is simply just wrong.
“Maybe it’s none of them,” he replied. “You can have the right message, the right idea and things don’t go [to plan]. It’s not because of the message or understanding of the message. It’s the game of football.
“We started well, we had the ball and didn’t hurt too much. We had a goal that was not [allowed]. We conceded in a situation that we knew could happen and lost the momentum.
“Second half, we go again with the message but it’s about what happens in the pitch and I believe we can do better and I trust these players.
“I will support them and stick with them until the end but in a humble way I ask the fans to keep helping us and supporting us so we change.”
Following his post-match interview with Sky Sports inside Tottenham Hotspur Stadium not long after the final whistle, it wasn’t until just gone 8pm when Espirito Santo emerged back on the sidelines to speak to the other broadcasters waiting to get his views on the game.
Lloris, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Solskjaer and De Gea had come out in that period but Espirito Santo remained inside and it would’ve simply been down to those fans who remained behind after the final whistle to wait pitchside where the interviews were taking place.
It is common for supporters to wait a while after games now at Spurs’ stadium to see their heroes but the head coach’s no-show brought back memories of a month earlier at Arsenal.
While at the Emirates Stadium he did initially appear after the game before heading back inside for a brief period due to the hostile atmosphere created by the home fans, he only came out in N17 once those waiting had been moved on by stewards as they tried to empty the ground.
Levy sent clear message
While it was quiet enough for the head coach to conduct his post-match interviews after 8pm at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with no fans inside, those watching on made their feelings clear throughout the game.
Booed off at half-time by a section of the supporters after failing to trouble the Red Devils as they went in 1-0 down, nine minutes after the restart it was deafening as Espirito Santo made his first change of the day.
Lucas Moura, who had looked bright in parts in the opening 45 minutes as he tried to trouble the United backline, was the man to make way for Steven Bergwijn despite Giovani Lo Celso not exactly taking his chance in the No.10 role.
Loud boos rung around the stadium as Lucas’ number came up on the fourth official’s board, with chants of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ taking place seconds later.
Quite what Bergwijn thought of the reaction remains to be seen as he entered the fray looking to help Spurs find a way back into the game.
That wasn’t the end of the chanting in the remaining period as “We want Levy out” was audible in the ground and so was “We want Nuno out” given what the team had served up in such a vital match
Unsurprisingly, the booing continued after the final whistle as Spurs fans made their feelings crystal clear to the Spurs chairman.
Asked about the anger from the fans during the game, Espirito Santo admitted that the booing is totally understandable when it was put to him if he believes he will be given time to continue in the capital.
“I’m only thinking about the next training session,” explained the former Wolves boss. “There are no words that are going to solve this situation.
“The booing and disappointment of the fans is understandable. When they don’t see the team they expect, the team that should play, and I truly believe that we are better than what we showed today, they are going to boo. They are going to boo. It’s up to us to change the mood.”
What next for Nuno, Levy and Tottenham?
Tottenham chairman Levy most definitely has a decision to make now after what unfolded in N17 on Saturday evening.
Promising “free-flowing, attacking and entertaining” football when speaking about what he wanted in the club’s next manager back in May, Spurs simply aren’t going to get that under Espirito Santo.
Looking promising at the end of August with Tottenham top of the Premier League table with three wins from three, the football in those three fixtures wasn’t easy on the eye and the team struggled to create chances in the final third.
That has unfortunately been a theme of Spurs’ start to the campaign and the Manchester United defeat resulted in no shots on target throughout the 90 minutes.
Persisting with Jose Mourinho’s style of football for large periods of last term as they were getting wins on the board and challenging towards the top until things quickly unravelled at the start of the year, supporters just won’t put up with the team’s current woes especially if the wins aren’t there and the football on offer is non-existent.
Mourinho was perhaps lucky in early 2021 that fans were not allowed inside stadiums due to the Coronavirus pandemic but Espirito Santo doesn’t have that luxury with capacity crowds watching on again.
Tottenham return to action on Thursday evening with Vitesse making the trip to the capital in the Europa Conference League and the attendance against the Dutch side will be very interesting having only seen 25,121 turn up for the previous European home match vs NS Mura.
Spurs supporters clearly want changes to take place at the club and they will continue to vent their frustrations until that eventually happens.
It is now down to Levy to make a decision one way or another as he received the message loud and clear in the defeat against Manchester United.
One small positive Tottenham fans can perhaps cling onto at present is that Romero is becoming an important part of the backline.
Initially in and out of the team to begin with this season, the Argentine has been a regular in Espirito Santo’s team from September onwards and demonstrated exactly why he was brought to the club.
Impressing in the recent Premier League fixtures, Romero showed in the early stages against Manchester United that he is the real deal as he did everything possible to come out with the ball.
Coping well up against the threat of Ronaldo, the summer signing thought he had his first goal in a Spurs shirt midway through the first half as he bundled the ball in at the far post from Eric Dier’s flicked header.
From the latest transfer news to those glorious wins in north London and beyond! There might even be a laugh or two too.
However, the linesman’s flag was eventually raised about ten seconds later to deny him and silence the home faithful.
Seeing Ben Davies take a header off him later in the first half as he looked set to head in, Romero struggled after the break and he may believe that he should have done better with United’s second as he couldn’t cut out Ronaldo’s pass to Cavani.
The player was then found way out of position at right-back for the final goal of the game as Rashford was given plenty of time and space to slot home after going through on goal.
Clearly a day to forget for all concerned at Tottenham, Romero has shown in recent weeks that he is going to be an integral part of the team over the coming years.
The hope for all Tottenham fans is that that team will be playing the “free-flowing, attacking and entertaining” football promised back in May.