Nuno Espirito Santo has called for equal commitment from his players as he looks to find some consistency at Tottenham.
At the top of the Premier League table at the end of August following three successive wins, Spurs have endured a mixed run of form since and it has brought the head coach’s future into question despite only arriving in north London at the end of June.
Still trying to discover his best squad as he looks to get the team back on track, Dele Alli and Harry Winks were two players left out completely on Wednesday night for the Carabao Cup tie away at Burnley.
Having seen Tanguy Ndombele miss out in the early weeks of the season while his future was still up in the air before coming back into the head coach’s starting XI, it was put to Espirito Santo if the same could happen with Alli and Winks.
“I am sorry will not tell you the details of our conversation as you understand,” explained the 47-year-old. “All the individual situations that we have with the players we take care of them personally when we feel that is the moment.
“And maybe times we are here and me personally to listen and observe and to make decisions. And those decisions are made on many situations.
“What happened with Tanguy happened due to many situations. There is one thing that is the outside expectations that goes around this kind of situations with players that you must ignore, you must judge in the right moment and be patient and then take care of the situation.
“Because at the end of the day what we want is for all the players to be involved and committed. This word is very important.
“The commitment is very important. When you are committed you understand better some kind of decisions. You are more patient and keep doing what you should do. Focus on your task, day after day.”
When pushed if he was suggesting that some of his players at the moment may not be fully committed in the way he wants them to be, he added: “I wish all the players were equally committed. That would be absurd to tell that is the reality because the players have their own expectations.
“Many of them work very, very hard during the week. And then comes the weekend and the coach decides to go with other players.
“It’s not because you’re not committed, but you are upset. You are annoyed. That is respectful. It doesn’t have to do with the commitment of these players.
“These players have to go beyond. They have to make a conscious effort that he has to go again from the beginning of the week to change the opinion and the idea of the manager.
“This is how it works. In this industry, this is what the player should do. Unfortunately, it’s not what is always happening.”
One player who has stood out for Tottenham over the past month or so is summer signing Cristian Romero.
Initially starting the season on the bench after his switch from Atalanta, the 23-year-old has been a regular in the side since September and his performances have gone down extremely well with the Spurs faithful.
Coping well against Michail Antonio last time out in the Premier League at West Ham, Romero then delivered a man-of-the-match performance in the cup win at Burnley in midweek as he helped the team record a much-needed shutout.
Now set to come up against Cristiano Ronaldo on Saturday evening, Espirito Santo was asked if he feels the Argentine can do likewise when the Portuguese great makes his first visit to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“Look, we have to look at Manchester United, not individuals. During the game there are always individual battles, duels the players have,” he explained.
“Cuti knows, and we’re very careful to tell him, that all players have their own individual characteristics. Antonio is one profile. On Wednesday, Cuti played against Jay Rodriguez, Wood, Barnes and Vydra.
“The defenders are reactive. They cannot be active. They have to adapt to the movements of the attackers.
“Ronaldo is a different situation and we’ll address it further on in the day.”
Romero’s aggressive style has caught the eye so far in his short time in the Premier League, notably his ability to step out of defence, win the ball and push forward with it.
While it may not be the same approach as a number of centre-backs in the top flight, Espirito Santo believes it can be a success in the Premier League.
“It can work in every team in every defender, provided it goes along with your idea,” responded the Portuguese.
“If you want to be more aggressive in your pressing, there’s a concept in football that’s anticipation. It’s very, very important.
“As long as the anticipation has the cover and the idea when you recover, what you do with the ball. So the individual concepts in defence are very important when you play like we want to play.
“Cuti performs very good on those aspects.”
From the latest transfer news to those glorious wins in north London and beyond! There might even be a laugh or two too.
Romero may have only played a total of ten games for Tottenham but his boss already feels that he is a “very important” player for the team.
“He is already a very important player for us. Very important player for us. Definitely and he will improve and grow,” stated Espirito Santo.
“He played with Dier, he played with Joe in the beginning against Pacos. He played with Sanchez. Sanchez played with Dier. It’s all about creating these partnerships.
“I don’t believe that you build a defensive line around one player you build a defence round partnerships.
“Centre half, centre half, centre half, full back, centre half, left back, midfielders, if you have two or if you have one. This is how you build, not around one individual.”