Nuno Espirito Santo irrefutably deserved the sack at Tottenham, whose position was made all the more untenable by players’ refusal to back the condemned manager.
His sacking, after numerous miserable performances, was inevitable. The Portuguese manager was clearly out of his depth at Tottenham. He didn’t lose his job purely due to his inept tactics and inability to adapt formations and strategy. A bevy of flagrant mistakes — starting the entire reserve team and deciding not to ask any senior players to travel to Vitesse, and preferring Ben Davies to Sergio Reguilon for the Manchester United are but two examples — contributed to his dismissal.
However, those deficiencies were only partially responsible for his demise. Nuno failed to connect with most of his players. His morose, sullen demeanour rubbed players the wrong way. Being candid is usually a positive character trait, but not in combination with a clear lack of compassion.
Missing the marks behind the scenes, Nuno never connected on an emotional level with his players, eventually costing him his job.
Players contributed significantly to Nuno’s departure
Whether you agree with it or not, a large percentage of Tottenham’s roster wanted Nuno gone. And their collective lack of commitment, effort and spirit assuredly sealed Nuno’s fate. While I won’t go as far as saying they bottled it, a large portion of the team will be fully aware of the severe consequences their actions had.
The team’s refusal to play for Nuno was clear for supporters to see. It was only a matter of time before supporters turned on the maligned manager. Supporters weren’t merely displeased with Nuno and his negative tactics, they were fuming with the overall lack of motivation across the side.
Players knew exactly what they were doing, and understood the gravity of their refusal to support Nuno. While Fabio Paratici and Daniel Levy set Nuno up for failure from the off, it was the players who drove the final dagger into their manager’s coffin.
Did the players have a right to capitulate?
Such is the way of modern football. Long gone are the days when players would commit fully regardless of whether they believed in the manager. As a collective, players have limitless power and can impact regime change with devastating effect.
The question remains: Were their actions warranted and acceptable?
Suffice to say, the players in this case got exactly what they wished for. Excitement has returned to north London thanks, not only to the watershed appointment of Antonio Conte, but also the players’ wholesale capitulation under Nuno.
I think it’s completely fair to fault the players for the way they conducted themselves while Nuno was in charge. But if they knew the runaway locomotive was heading for certain derailment, the argument is that it’s better to leap off the train and prevent long-term pain and heartache. At least this way there’s still enough time to correct course and salvage the season.
Though I can guaranteed Nuno won’t be hosting any dinner parties for the individuals whose actions fell just shy of a wholesale mutiny.