Three games into the season and Tottenham fans were in dream land with their side sitting proudly top of the Premier League, while fierce North London rivals Arsenal were rooted to the bottom without a point.
How times change so quickly in football. A little over two months later, a defeat in the North London Derby to Arsenal coupled with heavy defeats to Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Manchester United saw Nuno Espirito Santo depart and Antonio Conte arrive at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Where did it go wrong for Nuno?
Five wins and five defeats in ten Premier League games tells only some of Nuno’s Spurs story. Digging deeper into the numbers – and his style of play – it is clear that the former Wolves boss was never the right fit.
So far this season, only winless Norwich have scored less than Tottenham’s nine goals in 10 games – and it’s no coincidence. The North London club have mustered just 103 shots, the fewest shots in the Premier League (equal with Norwich), and failed to register a shot on target in their last 135 minutes of league football – a far stretch from the Mauricio Pochettino era.
This is largely down to a lack of creativity, with Harry Kane often dropping deep due to an absence of service and Son and Lucas Moura without ample opportunity to counterattack. Spurs lost possession (109 times) more than any other side bar Crystal Palace during Nuno’s ten game tenure, which is reflective of their failure to create attacking chances.
Known as a pragmatic manager, Nuno favoured a back three with wing-backs at Wolves but failed to find a similarly solid foundation at Tottenham. With just three clean sheets in ten games – and only Leicester City (17 goals) conceding more than – Spurs (16 goal against) struggled defensively, too.
In just ten games and following a successful spell at Wolves, Nuno can’t be judged as a poor manager. But it’s clear from the numbers that he wasn’t a fit for Tottenham Hotspur, a club with big European ambitions and a new state-of-the-art stadium.
Conte to bring new Italian style?
Antonio Conte turned down Spurs in the summer. Yet, four months later the former Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan boss arrives in North London, bringing with him great expectation and managerial experience.
Like Nuno, the Italian serial winner has a reputation for defensive precision, preferring a 3-5-2 formation.
But Conte will be looking to instantly improve performance at both ends of the pitch, just as he did at Chelsea – quickly turning an underperforming side into title runaway winners.
Across two Premier League seasons, Conte’s Chelsea accumulated 163 points from 76 games, an impressive 2.14 points per game (PPG).
Defensively sound, the Blues kept 16 clean sheets and recorded a strong 71% tackle success rate.
This gave the likes of Eden Hazard, Willian, Pedro and Diego Costa a platform to attack, leading to an average of 2.25 goals scored per game.
Chelsea also retained the ball well under Conte, averaging 530 passes per game with a pass accuracy of 84%.
The Italian’s 67% win percentage is one of the highest of any Premier League manager.
In Conte, Tottenham are getting a world class manager. However only time will tell whether it’ll be enough to carry them to the crucial trophies they’re after.