Tottenham Hotspur club captain Hugo Lloris has never been afraid to speak his mind, and he has recently come out to ask Spurs fans to give new manager Nuno Espirito Santo time. In an exclusive interview to Dan Kilpatrick at the Evening Standard, Lloris painted an optimistic vision of Nuno’s tenure at Tottenham thus far, and what he can bring to Tottenham during a time of fairly intensive change.
“For any manager, it’s not easy to change everything in one or two months — it’s impossible. But he’s bringing his ideas and, step by step, he’s building his relationship with the players.
“Clearly, we are starting [something new]. The idea is that it’s a new process, a new era, with young players. It can’t happen in just two or three months. We need time. We need confidence, we need to stick together — managers, the coaching staff, medical staff, players — and try to go in the same way.
“This is the important thing, to try to make sure everyone is going in the same way. I think we will have a better view [of where we are] in a few months.”
He’s not wrong, obviously. In what is already a period of significant upheaval for Tottenham, it’s clear that Spurs should give their new manager time to let his team adjust and gel in a different tactical system.
However, it’s important to note that these quotes were given prior to Sunday’s disastrous North London Derby which saw Spurs put together one of the worst overall performances under Nuno. So these quotes were given without the added context of an NLD shellacking, and shouldn’t be construed as defending the manager from a terrible performance, even I suspect Hugo probably wouldn’t change his sentiment significantly after one game. Even this one.
Hugo went on to talk about how Spurs are getting younger as a squad with many newer players coming into the team, and that process requires time for the newcomers to settle and establish themselves in the side.
“When I see the club going for young, talented players, they’re here for many years. They need to adapt to new football, the Premier League, new language, new culture, but at the same time, the ambition is still here. Maybe they don’t look at it right now, but maybe [they are looking at it] the next seasons.
“Sometimes it’s better to drop one step to come back stronger. That’s probably my feeling today. It doesn’t mean we’re not ambitious, it’s just a process. As a team, you need to build something and then arrive at a certain maturity to compete with the best. At the moment, we’re in a process.”
Lloris also spoke directly about his fellow France international teammate Tanguy Ndombele, a player that has become something of a Rorschach test of Tottenham fandom. Hugo was complimentary of Ndombele’s ability and expressed confidence that he could justify his record-setting transfer fee.
“Tanguy needs games, games, games, repetition of games. [He needs to] try to feel this responsibility because he’s not a young player any more. And a player with his talent and quality must feel responsibility inside the changing room and the team.
“Honestly, I think he’s ready, his mind is ready. He’s here with a smile, he’s connected with the team and that’s the most important thing. Obviously, it’s the manager’s decision to play him or not play him, but I can feel his energy is back. And, for sure, he’s going to perform. I have no doubt about that.
“With Tanguy, the first season, because of the language, it was sometimes frustrating with him to be not be able to talk with the others. Today, he’s totally open and he can talk and joke and share moments. That’s very important as a player, to feel connected to the team.”
Hugo’s a pretty straightforward guy and isn’t afraid to say what he means — there were several times in the past year where he was very direct about the club as it struggled under Jose Mourinho. Hugo can’t be happy with what happened on Sunday, but I’d be shocked if one match would push him completely in the other direction. At any rate, it doesn’t appear as though Spurs are in any hurry to make such a dramatic coaching change. Barring a pretty dramatic continuation of current form, Nuno’s likely going to be given more time.