The managerial search at Tottenham is officially into its sixth week (unofficially, 10 weeks since Jose Mourinho was fired), as they reportedly turn their attention to former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.
After spending four seasons at Wolves, where he helped to get the club promoted the Premier League and guided them a 7th-, 7th- and 13th-place finishes in their first three top-flight seasons, before agreeing his departure by mutual consent at the end of the 2020-21 season.
New director of football Fabio Paratici has led the way on the managerial search since his appointment almost two weeks ago, with nonstop links to clients of Jorge Mendes and current/former Serie A coaches the new norm. Paratici is even said to have considered Nuno for the vacant Juventus job last summer, when he held the title of sporting directory, before ultimately hiring Andrea Pirlo, who lasted just one season.
Nuno to Tottenham: Good hire? Bad hire?
Perhaps if the first five chapters of Tottenham’s search for a new manager hadn’t played out in such embarrassingly hilarious fashion, hiring Nuno wouldn’t have felt inherently underwhelming, but there are no do-overs in the real world. So, if Nuno is who Tottenham end up hiring to replace Mourinho and interim boss Ryan Mason, the word “safe” immediately comes to mind.
With three years of Premier League experience already under his belt, Nuno is a far safer choice than Paulo Fonseca or Gennaro Gattuso, both of whom were previously linked with the Tottenham job, while quite clearly lacking the high-end potential of appointing the likes of Antonio Conte or Carlo Ancelotti. Is Nuno a better or more inspiring hire than, say, Graham Potter or Brendan Rodgers? That’s a little more difficult to say.
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Certainly, there are stylistic tendencies which would appear to fly in the face of Daniel Levy’s stated desire to return Tottenham to its roots as an attacking club, but the words “abject” and “anti-football” never once came to mind when watching Wolves the last three years.
Given the mass overhaul required to bring the Tottenham squad back up to speed, a rigid and structured manager like Nuno might be a good fit as Spurs look to effectively rebuild on the fly. If Nuno proves he’s capable of making the jump to elite European competition, he gets a contract extension and sticks around a while longer. If he appears only capable of stabilizing the club amid turbulent times and establishes something of a hard-nosed culture, Tottenham could undeniably use that for a season or two.