Tottenham fans turn on Nuno Espirito Santo on mutinous night against Man United... the beginning of the end?

·4-min read
Tottenham fans turn on Nuno Espirito Santo on mutinous night against Man United... the beginning of the end?

Tottenham supporters turned on Nuno Espirito Santo during a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United to leave the head coach fighting for his job.

With Spurs trailing 1-0 to Cristiano Ronaldo’s first-half strike, Nuno’s decision to replace Lucas Moura with Steven Bergwijn in the 54th minute was met by loud boos from around the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and chants of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ at the manager.

It was a grim moment for Nuno and, in all honesty, could mark the beginning of the end for the Portuguese, who has quickly lost the fanbase over a series of abject performances.

There were further boos after Edinson Cavani and substitute Marcus Rashford wrapped up a comfortable win for United in the second half, and those Spurs fans who had remained in the ground also made their disapproval known at the final whistle.

The anger felt directed at the head coach rather than the players, while there were also chants of “we want Levy out” at chairman Daniel Levy during a mutinous evening.

Last season, Jose Mourinho clung to his job long after results and performances had deteriorated and the mood around the club had turned sour, but he never faced direct pressure from supporters while they remained locked out of the stadium.

Nuno not only lacks Mourinho’s charisma and winning record, he is now potentially facing an open revolt from Spurs fans, from which it will surely be difficult to recover.

Nuno has faced a variety of difficulties since his appointment but it was nonetheless hard to blame supporters for their disdain, as Spurs again failed to have a shot on target against a United team who should have been there for the taking following their 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Liverpool last weekend.

The boos for Nuno contrasted starkly with the support for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from the travelling United fans, who sung their manager’s name repeatedly after Cavani doubled United’s lead and wrapped up the victory midway through the second half.

The match was dubiously dubbed ‘El Sackico’ by some supporters, reflecting the intense pressure on both managers, but beforehand Solskjaer appeared to be the only one in genuine danger of losing his job in the next few days.

The reaction of the Spurs fans may have changed that.

Levy is conscious that Nuno has been dealt a rough hand and knows the club is starting a new cycle, which could take time to peak.

But the chairman has never allowed the atmosphere at the club to really toxify and will know the heat could turn on him if he does not make a change in the dugout.

This felt like an important turning point for Nuno, and not in the way he would have wanted.

Nuno’s changes backfire

Nuno inherited an imbalanced and unfit squad from Mourinho and has faced a catalogue of problems, including Harry Kane’s mutinous summer, injuries and the disruption caused by the international breaks.

Nonetheless, Spurs are capable of far more than they showed against United in another anaemic display – devoid of ideas, cohesion, confidence and attacking verve.

In the two years since Mauricio Pochettino's sacking, Spurs fans have gradually become worn down and the question of whether the squad is good enough to be competing for a place in the top five or six of the Premier League is no longer entirely clear.

But there is little doubt that Nuno is failing to maximise the talent at his disposal. Spurs are better than this.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The head coach still had plenty of quality on the pitch and yet his side failed to muster a shot on goal again, meaning the last time they tested the opposition goalkeeper was in the 44th minute of last weekend’s defeat to West Ham.

Plainly, it is nowhere near good enough.

To make matters worse, Nuno’s selection decisions backfired. Having picked the same XI in the League for the last three matches, he brought Ben Davies and Giovani Lo Celso into the side for Sergio Reguilon and Tanguy Ndombele, presumably to make Spurs more solid at the expense of creation.

Davies, though, was at fault for the crucial first goal, getting caught under Bruno Fernandes’ cross before Ronaldo spectacularly volleyed United ahead.

Lo Celso tried to make things happen but squandered Spurs’ best chance to get back into the game when he fluffed a pass for Son in a good position at 1-0.

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