Nuno Espírito Santo says he is “totally positive fans are going to love” watching his Tottenham team next season – and that he is counting on Harry Kane being part of it, along with some “clinical” new signings.
Kane indicated at the end of last season that he wished to leave Tottenham to increase his chances of winning trophies, and Manchester City are known to be interested. But Nuno, speaking at his first press conference since being appointed as the north London’s club manager last month, suggested he was confident that the 27-year-old striker will stay at White Hart Lane.
He would not confirm whether the club’s chairman, Daniel Levy, has promised that Kane would not be sold. “Harry is our player – period,” said Nuno. “No need to talk about anything else. Now is the moment for Harry to recover his energy [after Euro 2020].
“When he comes back [to training], we will have time to speak. But now is the moment for Harry to rest and prepare for what is coming – I’m looking forward to him joining the group and for us to start working together. The best is to work with the best players around, and Harry is one of those.
“I have no doubts in my mind. When Harry Kane arrives he will feel that everyone of us has to commit himself to becoming better. We are ambitious people. We want to do it well. And we count on Harry for that.”
Asked why he had not yet spoken to Kane even by phone, the manager replied: “I didn’t speak to any of the players who were with their national teams because, if I was on the other side, it would be disrespectful.
“When a player is with his national team, he should be focused on that because he has a hard job. I will speak when they arrive. That will be the right moment: in our own buildin and face to face. To prepare our future together.”
Nuno was aslso asked about the future of Gareth Bale, who spent last season on loan at Tottenham. The manager was more emphatic. Nuno said: “He will not be part of our squad.” But he expects other incomings and says he discusses transfers regularly with the club’s new director of football, Fabio Paratici, and performance director Steve Hitchen.
“We talk on a daily basis, we share opinions,” said Nuno. “Fabio and Steve do their job looking at the market and I do my job on the training ground, and then [we] get together with our ideas and try to find the best decisions. I believe it’s not easy to improve our squad but we need to. So we have to be clinical with the players that join us. They have to bring something we don’t already have. And besides being a fantastic player, he has to be a good human being because everything starts with that.”
As he spoke, Nuno radiated optimism and looked happy and refreshed. It was a glowing contrast to the manager who sometimes showed signs of strain last season, when his Wolves team were afflicted by injuries and misfortune, and Covid-19 restrictions kept him apart from his family. He said the experiences of the last year made him take stock and, having done so, he is determined to help bring joy back to football and society.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have suffered a lot, every one of us,” said Nuno.
“Of course you think what you want for your life, you consider many thoughts, many decisions. But since that period I think there is a spirit of a mission to help football to come again. I committed to that, to do everything that I could to help football come back good. I believe it’s going to be even better than ever. So after all these moments of reflection, I’m happy that I’m in the game.”
He said he did not care if Tottenham spoke to other potential managers in the two and a half months between jilting José Mourinho and appointing him at the end of June. He also said “it makes no sense” to talk about other potential employers that he spoke to after leaving Wolves, such as Crystal Palace.
“What I can tell you is I am so proud,” he said. “When I had the phone call and a chance to meet Tottenham, everything changed from my perspective. I am where I want to be and wished to be.” He is unconcerned that some Spurs fans have been unimpressed by the decision to appoint him.
“The expectations around big clubs are huge and you have to be prepared for that,” he said. “The way you prepare yourself is to ignore all the noise and focus on the things you can control. What I can control is to prepare the players.
“We want to make our fans proud, to make them enjoy our teams and love our players. I think they will enjoy it.
“This is what I’m telling the players – ‘let’s enjoy ourselves’. Our football must be the reflection in the mirror of what we are doing and what we want to do. And I’m totally positive that the fans are going to love it.”