Tottenham Hotspur open the Nuno Espirito Santo era tomorrow in their first preseason match, at Leyton Orient. Nuno also met the press for the first time as head coach of Spurs, expressing optimism about his team and shutting down discussion of a Harry Kane transfer to Manchester City, but also acknowledging that there’s a lot of work left to do.
Nuno was, naturally, asked about Kane, who is under intense scrutiny over his desire to leave Spurs to win trophies. Espirito Santo refused to discuss the issue, saying that Kane is still a Tottenham player and he has yet to meet with him after the end of the EUROs.
“Harry is our player, period. No need to talk about anything else. Now is the moment for Harry to recover his energy, to rest. When he comes again we will have time to speak. We will have good conversations, but now is the moment for Harry to rest and to prepare for what’s coming. And I’m looking forward to him joining the group and start working together.
“I have no doubts in my mind. I have no doubts. What I wish is for Harry to recover well, to have a good rest and when he arrives he will feel that everyone of us has to commit ourselves to become better. We are very ambitious, we are ambitious people and we want to do it well and no doubts on Harry on that.”
Nuno was also asked about the transfer window and Tottenham’s plans for how to improve over last season’s squad that finished seventh in the Premier League. Nuno noted that while Managing Director of Football Fabio Paratici and Technical Director Steve Hitchen are taking the lead in that area, they are still in close communication over potential targets.
“We’ve been talking - not only me and Fabio. Steve [Hitchen] also. We are aware there’s a lot of work to be done, but at the same time it’s hard work because to improve our squad, the quality we have, the talent we have, is not easy. And we have to find the right players who can help us, but it’s been good work and on a daily basis each moment we have the chance to speak, to share opinions - me, Fabio, Steve. They do their job, look at the market. I do my job on the training ground and we get together ideas and try to find the best decisions. But like I say to improve our squad is not easy.”
One of the main fan concerns about the appointment of Nuno was the defensive, counterattacking style of football he implemented at Wolves, a style that did not seem to suit the “progressive attacking football” that Daniel Levy said was in the club’s DNA. He stated that the opening part of Tottenham’s preseason work has been about establishing a level of fitness, and that the finer points of tactical setup and style of play will come in due course.
“Now we are focused on many aspects of the game. We have to be really careful and how we want to play. Now we have to prepare the players in terms of fitness, in terms of mentality, the focus so then we’ll put our ideas together.
“Now it’s about preparing themselves to be able to do whatever comes in situations, to become faster, to become stronger, competitive and intense in every action. Then will come the moment that to deliver our idea, how we’re going to play, the lines of the ball, how we’re going to defend, but we have to be organised and that’s the main point.
“These two weeks has been a focus on fitness and we work fitness inside of the game, without separating, so if we want to prepare fitness we have to be intense in our training sessions, inside of the game, but like I said, the players have been great. Fantastic.”
Nuno again restated his comments from his welcome video on the day he joined the club, reiterating how happy he is to be at Tottenham and that he wants to “make our fans proud.”
“I am here, this is where I want to be, I am so happy.
“What we want is to make our fans proud, to make them enjoy their players, love their players, this is our focus, let’s make our fans proud, to create a good atmosphere, help the players throughout the season and every moment. I think they will enjoy. This is what I am telling the players, ‘Let’s enjoy ourselves’. Our football must be the reflection in the mirror of what we are doing, what we want to do and I am totally positive the fans are going to love it.”