Tottenham: Harry Kane, Nuno Espirito Santo & Conference League – can Spurs emerge from confusion?

Spurs’ strong start to the season has been marred by their inability to overcome the curse of the north London derby. They have lost to both Arsenal and Chelsea over the course of the season and now sit four points off the top of the table.

The last time Tottenham Hotspur were in a state of constant flux, it was in 2013, which was also the year that their arch-rivals Liverpool announced their return to the Champions League. Both teams went on to set themselves on a path that would see them dominate the Premier League for the next few seasons, but would the North Londoners make the same strides?

Despite a strong start under Mauricio Pochettino, Tottenham have struggled to assert themselves as a top-four side. The club currently sit in fifth, five points adrift of Chelsea, and seemingly can’t decide how to play. On one hand, they seem to have abandoned their possession-based style in favor of a rugged counter-attacking strategy … but Nuno Espirito Santo’s team still don’t defend well at the back, with an alarming tendency to concede soft goals. Without a consistent approach, Pochettino’s team are floundering. So, what should Tottenham do?. Read more about tottenham transfer news and let us know what you think.

Nuno Espirito SantoOn July 28, Nuno Espirito Santo led Spurs to their second pre-season win, this time against MK Dons of League One.

It seems like a long time ago when Mauricio Pochettino stood at the National Stadium in Singapore and told a room full of media that if Tottenham had won the Champions League final six weeks earlier, he would have resigned as manager.

“However, I thought it was not ideal to end like this after the final,” he added. “I am not someone who avoids dealing with issues. I’m a sucker for a big task.”

Nobody could have predicted the difficulties Spurs would confront or the magnitude of the task ahead of them at the time.

Nobody anticipated Pochettino’s departure in less than four months, or that his replacement, Jose Mourinho, would follow him out the exit door not long after. No one expected a worldwide epidemic to strike with such force that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy believes it would lose the club £200 million in non-recoverable income.

Spurs will not compete in the Champions League final this season. The fact that their European campaign will take place in the newly created Europa Conference League is a sour pill to swallow, sweetened only by the knowledge that old rivals Arsenal will be left out entirely.

In some ways, it seems like a totally different club now that Nuno Espirito Santo is in charge.

Nuno, I’m delighted for you – Moura

The Kane conundrum

Spurs have changed so much since their Champions League final loss by Liverpool that just two of their starting XI in Madrid – Hugo Lloris and Son Hueng-min – are expected to play in their first Premier League encounter against champions Manchester City on August 15.

With the departures of Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld this summer, the team has lost five players, including the whole defense.

Because to their inconsistent play and injuries, Harry Winks, Moussa Sissoko, and Dele Alli have not all started the same Premier League game since December 2019.

Finally, there’s Harry Kane. It will be interesting to see how the scenario around England’s captain develops.

Kane believes he has secured a gentleman’s agreement to depart. He aspires to play for Manchester City. He is wanted by the city. Tottenham dispute the initial claim, citing the three years remaining on his contract as evidence that the 28-year-old is not on his way out.

Various rumors have spread about what will happen next, but the tale will not die until Kane returns to the club – or says that he will not – and clarifies his feelings about the future.

The fact that City will be Tottenham’s first opponents of the new season just adds to the excitement around a sensitive scenario in which Levy must make the correct decision.

Harry KaneHarry Kane has been at Tottenham Hotspur since he was 11 years old.

A complication in the conference

It’s fair to assume that the degree of excitement around Monday’s European Conference League play-off draw isn’t nearly as high as it would be if it were for the Champions League group stage.

Spurs are in the tournament despite finishing seventh previous season, their lowest result since 2009. For the first time since 2008, they finished behind West Ham United.

Tottenham have just 42 points from 29 games after defeating Manchester City 2-0 in their ninth game to take top of the Premier League on November 21.

They would have finished equal with Aston Villa, who were 11th, if their 1.448 points-per-game average had continued throughout the season.

Season Position Season Position
2007-08 11th 2014-15 5th
2008-09 8th 2015-16 3rd
2009-10 4th 2016-17 2nd
2010-11 5th 2017-18 3rd
2011-12 4th 2018-19 4th
2012-13 5th 2019-20 6th
2013-14 6th 2020-21 7th

Forward Tottenham’s main fault, according to Lucas Moura, is that they are in Europe’s third-tier tournament, with a win in the play-off round still needed to advance to the group stage.

“In football, it’s tough to talk about justice,” Moura told Sport.

“We know the Premier League is difficult, and if we don’t do well, we won’t be able to qualify for the Champions League, much alone the Europa League.” It is all our fault. It is the fault of everyone.

“We have the ability to perform better this season than previous. Let’s make a stand for it.”

The trophy hunt continues.

Even if memories of Tottenham’s tumultuous hunt for Mourinho’s successor are still vivid, the club seems to have regained its focus.

After failing to entice Pochettino back, the breakdown of negotiations with Antonio Conte, and the shambles surrounding advances to Paulo Fonseca and Gennaro Gattuso, #NoToNuno may have been trending when it became clear Spurs were concentrating on the Portuguese.

Former Wolves manager Santo, on the other hand, is relishing the challenge.

“To dare is to do,” he said again in an interview with club media, using Spurs’ slogan. “That’s fantastic. It’s exactly what we’re looking for.”

Nuno has been putting in a lot of effort with his players throughout pre-season, drawing similarities with Pochettino’s physical demands on the team. And, based on the amount of time he has spent on his phone in public, technical director Fabio Paratici has been extremely active.

Spurs players in trainingSpurs’ last two pre-season friendly are against Chelsea and Arsenal.

Two new players have already arrived: Italian goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini and Spanish winger Bryan Gil, with more on the way.

Nuno has avoided the three-man defensive formation that was the bedrock of his success at Wolves during the first few pre-season games, but once all of his internationals return and the club’s summer recruitment is complete, it will be interesting to see if he reverts or opts for the four-man defense he tried at Molineux last season with mixed results.

Whether Kane stays or not, the acquisition of Gil and the hunt for a striker – with Fiorentina’s £40m-rated Dusan Vlahovic being the most heavily connected – indicates a different strategy.

And for Moura, this validates his conviction that Tottenham’s trophy hunt, which has been discussed every year since 2008 but has always ended in disappointment, is nearing its conclusion.

He said, “I am always an optimistic person.” “Of course, when a management changes, a new mindset or training is implemented. It’s also thrilling because every player wants to prove themselves and prove that they belong in the starting XI.

“We’re working hard in the gym and I’m certain we’ll be ready for the season.”

“My goal, and the goal of the club, is to constantly win something. It’s past time for us to take home a trophy.”

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