Nuno Espirito Santo ignoring the past and looking to the future as Tottenham begin new European quest

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Nuno Espirito Santo has warned his players that their past exploits in the Champions League mean nothing as they begin their Europa Conference League campaign proper at Rennes on Thursday.

Spurs reached the 2019 Champions League Final under former boss Mauricio Pochettino but this season they are the Premier League’s sole representatives in UEFA’s new tertiary competition after a seventh-place finish.

Nuno, who will be without Heung-min Son, Eric Dier and Ryan Sessegnon in France, says the past means nothing as he urged his squad to bounce back following Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.

“The past doesn’t mean anything for us,” Nuno said ahead of the game at Roazhon Park. “What you did in football doesn’t mean anything, you have to challenge yourself every day. This is a message for life.

“We need to compete better, we must avoid and minimise mistakes. It was a tough match [on Saturday] that we didn’t perform well in. We have to react and play better tomorrow.“I think everybody realises we didn’t perform as we wanted, and the first ones who realise this are ourselves. I think the best way to improve is when you arrive, analyse personally and are able to identify the things you need to do well. This is the first step to improvement.

Heung-min Son is one of several regular first team players unavailable for Thursday night. (AFP via Getty Images)
Heung-min Son is one of several regular first team players unavailable for Thursday night. (AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s up to us. All of us. We give the players our help to try to find solutions to perform better. That’s our job. And they have a responsibility to perform.”

Spurs had just two shots in a dismal display at Selhurst Park, with talisman Harry Kane failing to have an effort on goal or a single touch inside the Palace box.

Nuno admitted afterwards he was concerned by his side’s lack of creativity and said they had been working relentlessly on the training ground to make improvements.

“Training, training, spending as much time as we can on the training ground,” he said. “Preparing the players, trying to find solutions and then give them the support and the confidence to compete and try to improve their performances. I don’t know any other recipes for success. It’s hard work. Hard work and the boys are doing it. They are realising that in football there are ups and downs and what’s important is how you react to it.”

Son has not travelled to Rennes after suffering a calf strain on international duty, while Eric Dier has not recovered from a dead leg after being forced off against Palace.

Both players are thought to be doubts for Sunday’s visit of rivals Chelsea, with Nuno saying: “They are improving, day by day they are better, but alongside the South American players [Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Davinson Sanchez, who are training in Croatia until Saturday], we still have to assess. Steven Bergwijn is better, he travelled with us, he trained yesterday and today, he is much better.”

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