Most Tottenham coaches receive the same advice when they first take over in North London. Whatever you do, make sure you beat Arsenal. If you can’t beat Arsenal, make sure you beat Chelsea. And don’t lose, under any circumstances, to West Ham.
Nuno Espirito Santo will have understood the importance of derbies when he was appointed and, throwing a 3-0 loss to Crystal Palace, he has now committed the cardinal sin of losing four of them and conceding 10 goals in the process.
His Spurs team was ousted by another London rival on Sunday when Michail Antonio swooped in to seal a 1-0 win for the Hammers, and like every game in the capital this season, it was another toothless display by the Nuno’s men.
Nuno Espirito Santo is under fire after his Tottenham team lost a fourth London derby this season
The 1-0 loss to West Ham means Spurs have conceded 10 and scored once against rivals London.
Tottenham were beaten 3-0 at home to bitter rivals Chelsea in September.
And they suffered further humiliation as they were defeated 3-1 by local rivals Arsenal.
Slow pace, lack of inventiveness and a non-existent goal threat. Nuno’s men had a couple of half chances in the first half through Son Heung-min and Harry Kane, but in the second half they failed to register a single shot.
The Portuguese manager was never a popular choice with fans and would always depend on getting results quickly. After a “honeymoon” period of three straight wins to start the season, things have skyrocketed quickly, with many fans questioning the style he’s trying to implement.
No recognizable game plan or strategy was displayed at the London stadium, and Nuno even had the audacity to claim that the Spurs were the best team.
The Spurs lack inventiveness under Nuno and appear toothless in front of goal after failing to register a shot in the second half at the London Stadium.
“Honestly, we were the best team,” he said after the game. ‘I think we controlled the game, we had opportunities. We had possession. West Ham is a good team, but they only created opportunities on counterattacks and set pieces. We play better, but this is football.
‘The last pass was there, but we have to be more aggressive in our offensive game. We control the game. The whole game was under control. ‘
Unfortunately, having the majority of possession does not win you football games if there is no end product, and there was nothing in this game from Tottenham’s point of view to suggest “control.”
#NunoOut was trending again on Twitter after the loss to West Ham, and even if players still believe in its methods, it’s clear that many fans have lost what little faith they had. In the boardroom, patience is wearing thin as well.
Spurs’ miserable stats from London derbies this season – courtesy of www.sofascore.com
The Spurs were passed to the sword in the last three London derbies, conceding nine goals in the process and scoring just one: a consolation against Arsenal. This was a completely different equation. A close game that was there to take it and instead of grabbing it by the neck, Tottenham was a pedestrian.
Nuno would certainly say that he needs more time to hammer out his philosophies. He would say that if you look at the Premier League table, his team is still within touching distance of the top four, in sixth place and only two points behind fourth with five wins, including one against Manchester City. But the statistics do not favor his side in the least.
Spurs have just nine Premier League goals, with Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and even Watford and Newcastle scoring more.
In terms of expected goals, they rank 17th at 9.7, Opta’s figures show, just above relegation favorites Burnley and Norwich. They are second last, again ahead of the Canary Islands, when it comes to shots, registering a measly 94 shots. By comparison, Liverpool are at the top of the shooting charts at 185.
Nuno is struggling to get the best out of his attackers Harry Kane (left) and Son Heung-min
Tottenham’s lack of penetration can be summed up in their humble position in terms of touches in the rival area, again occupying 17th place with only 181. And the lack of aggression and intensity that we have seen from Nuno’s side has made Spurs rebound possession only 33 times in the last third.
The fans want to see a Tottenham attack and play in style, they haven’t seen him since Mauricio Pochettino was in charge. If pragmatism works, that can be forgiven, but there have been too many poor demonstrations since the former Lobos boss took over.
Looking ahead, Nuno has more dark clouds than silver highlights.
He’s not getting performances from his top stars. Having struggled to keep Harry Kane, the England captain now seems devoid of confidence with a single Premier League goal and is not playing like someone who believes in the coach’s plan.
Nuno’s system does not allow for midfield creativity, which is often overlooked and stifled.
Whatever style he’s trying to introduce, he doesn’t allow his midfielders to be creative, despite having a handful of technically gifted players. The likes of Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Dele Alli seem stifled, while Son has been scoring goals without much regular service.
Spurs are still in all cup competitions and face a trip to Burnley next, before a major home clash against Manchester United. It is a decisive week.
Exiting the Carabao Cup and allowing an injured Red Devils team to rediscover their confidence in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium would be detrimental, perhaps too detrimental for Nuno to recover.
Your number one priority is sharpening your blunt tools. Too often, the Spurs have missed games and are not creative enough. Whether you work on training or tweak your tactics, the team will be lucky to finish in the top seven playing this way.
The former Wolves boss promised to ‘make the fans proud’ when he was appointed, but his playing style is nothing to be proud of so far
When Nuno was appointed, he promised to follow the ‘DNA’ of the club and make the fans ‘enjoy watching’ the team.
“Having a team like Tottenham, you can only have one DNA, you can only think one way,” he said. ‘We have to enjoy the game, we have to play the game. When you have a quality team, talented players like ours, the DNA is to make the fans proud, to enjoy watching.
This is our DNA, to make our fans proud of us. There is no doubt that this will happen. We are going to make them proud and they are going to enjoy the team, for sure. ”
It was a bold promise, and so far empty. For any hobbyist, there is very little to be proud of as it stands.