Nuno Espirito Santo’s Tottenham in-tray: Harry Kane talks, revitalise Dele Alli, win over fans

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 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

Tottenham’s protracted and occasionally farcical search for a new manager finally came to an end on Wednesday, when the club announced the appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo on a two-year contract, 72 days after Jose Mourinho’s sacking.

Nuno was the latest recommendation of incoming managing director Fabio Paratici, who turned to the Portuguese following talks with Antonio Conte, Paulo Fonseca and Gennaro Gattuso.

The former Wolves boss arrives at Spurs with a stacked in-tray after an underwhelming spell under Mourinho left them in the inaugural UEFA Conference League, still needing a significant overhaul of the squad and with an unhappy talisman in Harry Kane.

Here are five of Nuno’s biggest tasks on taking the job...

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Talks with Harry Kane

Chairman Daniel Levy will have the deciding say on Kane’s future, while Paratici is expected to be influential in deciding the fates of the squad.

Levy is determined to keep Kane, who wants to leave his boyhood club and is the subject of serious interest from Manchester City.

Nuno will need to hold talks with Kane as soon as possible after the European Championship in a bid to appease the England captain and establish the state of play.

Kane enjoyed strong relationships with both Mauricio Pochettino and Mourinho, remaining one of the Portuguese’s biggest supporters in the dressing room until the bitter end, and Nuno will want to form a similar connection with the striker if possible.

Restore harmony in the squad

Club captain Hugo Lloris painted a bleak picture of a broken and divided dressing room following Tottenham’s humiliating Europa League exit to Dinamo Zagreb back in March, while Mourinho hinted at meddling outside influences, including player agents, during the death-throes of his tenure.

Clearly, all is not well within the squad, which is no longer the united band of brothers from the Pochettino era.

Perhaps the negativity was primarily a consequence of Mourinho’s bad vibes but if he wants to achieve anything Nuno needs to restore harmony and get all the players pulling in the same direction.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Win over the fans

Nuno arrives at the club on the back of a divisive but not insignificant social media drive against his appointment, which followed the success of supporters’ #NoToGattuso campaign.

Ultimately, only results and success on the pitch, preferably with the right style, will win over Spurs fans but Nuno could start by saying the right things.

A commitment to playing attacking football, which is among the biggest concerns Spurs fans have with his appointment, would be a start, as would reassurances that his agent, Jorge Mendes, will not have undue influence over club policy, as he did at Wolves.

Blooding young players, making the right noises about Kane and a new contract for Heung-min Son would also help lift the mood.

 (Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
(Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Rebuild the squad

The club would listen to offers for a number of players – including Moussa Sissoko, Serge Aurier, Erik Lamela, Davinson Sanchez, Lucas Moura and Harry Winks – but Nuno may have other ideas and the new head-coach will work with Levy, Paratici and Steve Hitchen to decide which of his squad players go and which stay.

Nuno will also be influential in attracting the new signings desperately needed to revitalise an unbalanced and stale squad. Spurs need a new centre-forward even if Kane stays and at least two new defenders.

Nuno may also have a decision to make on Gareth Bale. Spurs do not have an option to re-sign the forward but a fresh approach to Real Madrid and the Welshman may not be out of the question.

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Revitalise Dele and Ndombele

Levy refused to countenance the departures of Dele Alli or Tanguy Ndomdbele during Mourinho’s tenure, with the chairman viewing both players as valuable assets.

He is unlikely to have changed his mind, so Nuno will be faced with the challenge of getting the best from the two mercurial talents.

Ndombele occasionally shone last season under Mourinho but did not impress his temporary successor Ryan Mason, while Dele has lost his way since the 2018 World Cup but was often overlooked last season.

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