Nuno Espirito Santo was without equivocation not Tottenham Hotspur’s first choice as manager. Today, there’s even more evidence that he’s not considered the long term solution either. Nuno signed a two year contract at Spurs in the summer, a notably short contract for a manager who was ostensibly hired to turn things around at the club. According to David Ornstein’s weekly column in the Athletic, that contract could come to a natural end even sooner.
Ornstein writes that Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy inserted a break clause into Nuno’s deal that would allow Spurs to sack him without penalty should the club not secure a 6th place or better finish.
It is understood that should Nuno fail to deliver a top-six finish, Tottenham would be able to sack the 47-year-old midway through his two-year deal without having to pay any compensation.
That puts Spurs in something of a win-win situation. Either Nuno leads them to a European qualification spot or they can part ways at no added cost.
Both sides will hope that sufficient progress is achieved to render the option redundant but its existence underlines both Nuno’s eagerness to take on the challenge and Levy’s negotiating skills.
— David Ornstein, The Athletic
It makes sense. A two year contract is an awfully short amount of time for any new manager. This, combined with a summer managerial search that felt at best slap-dash and at worst mildly humiliating, is further suggestion that Nuno was never seen as more than a stop-gap manager to manage the club through some choppy waters while Managing Director of Football Fabio Paratici turned over the squad. At best, he pulls a rabbit out of his hat and guides Spurs back to prominence. At worst, well, they flounder around during a transition year, Spurs continue to look for a more long-term solution, and Tottenham pulls the plug for free over the summer.
Tottenham, it was mentioned, deny the existence of said clause, but they were going to anyway. That casts doubt on Ornstein’s reporting, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s wrong.
This is not to excuse the way Tottenham have comported themselves over the past few seasons. If anything the fact that Spurs ended up in this position to begin with is indicative of a club that has made more than its fair share of mistakes and seems to be bereft of a long-term plan. However (if y’all will indulge me in a torturously mixed metaphor) if the appointment of Nuno is kicking the can down the road, this break clause provides a convenient off-ramp. You know. For the can. Or something. I’m workshopping it.