Oliver Skipp has explained to football.london exactly what Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo has been working with him on and how he is developing his game.
The 21-year-old midfielder has got plenty of minutes this season at Spurs following a big season on loan at Norwich City as a pivotal figure in their Championship-winning season.
Following another impressive performance against NS Mura in the Europa Conference League, the England U21 international explained what the Spurs boss has brought to his game.
“First and foremost the trust he has given me to play a lot of minutes so far but also I feel he is very concise with his instructions on the training field,” he told football.london.
“I feel a lot of his work is done on the training field whereas perhaps other managers may be more video related, but I think there is things definitely added to my game, for example trying to stay a bit more central, for turnovers when we lose the ball I am the shield for the defence.
“Just little things like that, my positioning, he is a manager that I can definitely learn off and improve my game.”
Tottenham started this season well, winning their first three games in the Premier League, including beating champions Manchester City, all with Skipp in midfield.
However, they have lost their past three league games, all derbies and conceded three goals in each, with Skipp not starting in the two more recent defeats to Chelsea and Arsenal.
The midfielder was asked what it was like to return from a season at Norwich where winning was the norm to a mixed time at Tottenham.
“Not too difficult, last year was winning a lot of games but you still have times in the season where you have difficult times,” he said.
“I think the last few games has been a difficult period but I think the group have stayed together and you saw that with the performance [against Mura].
“Maybe at the start of the second half we let our standards drop a little bit but you don’t turn into a bad team overnight so there are things we need to work on. It’s nice to be back in the team, I have been here all my life.
“It was important just to get that feeling of winning again. We had three games where we have been defeated, it was definitely the right step and we showed signs of building on things we have been working on. We know we definitely need to improve again for the weekend.”
He added that everyone is behind Espirito Santo: “Definitely. As a group we are fully aware that the last few games we haven’t been at our best, but we are definitely still behind the manager and trying to implement the stuff we are working on.
“It was always going to take time coming into this environment but everyone is definitely behind the manager.”
Harry Kane was back among the goals on Thursday night with a 20-minute hat-trick against Mura and Skipp explained what it’s like to play and train with the England captain.
“Everyone knows what he brings not just to the pitch, but the training ground,” he said. “Everyone goes on record to say he is a brilliant trainer and always doing everything he can to get into the best possible condition and that continues.
“For the young players you look at someone like Dane [Scarlett] or myself just to watch and see what he does and take little things from his game and implement them into your game can only help the younger players especially.”
However, he added that the team cannot just rely on Kane to score the goals they need week in, week out.
“For sure, there are lots of people that need to contribute, but you saw [against Mura], Gio [Lo Celso] scored a goal and a couple of assists for him,” he said.
“There are people who have stepped up and all the players know we have a world class striker so we would be stupid not to use him, but all of us need to step up and help create chances for him or get goals in other ways, maybe set-pieces so it doesn’t just fall on Harry to score all of the goals, there are other players capable of doing that.”
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Following recent poor performances in the Premier League, all eyes turn to Sunday and the match against in-form Villa.
Skipp believes that Spurs are only at the start of the process under Espirito Santo and they will come through the other end.
“As players we take responsibility for the performances on the pitch, we know that we weren’t at our best in the last few games but we also know at the start of the season there were signs of what we need to do and the work the manager has put in,” he explained.
“Okay, we had a few bad results, but we have stayed positive and knew that it was a long process and that things were going to take time and that will come with time.”