Tottenham were beaten 1-0 by Pacos de Ferreira in Portugal, with Nuno Espirito Santo’s fringe players failing to stake a claim for a regular spot in the line-up
Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo has repeatedly heaped praise on the quality of his wider squad since being named as Jose Mourinho’s successor this summer.
The former Wolves boss preferred a tight-knit group of players during his successful run at Molineux, but has the virtue of a much larger squad in his new assignment.
But those players currently out of his starting XI, failed to display that strength in depth as Spurs’ fringe stars succumbed to an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Pacos de Ferreira.
There was no Harry Kane in Portugal – but it wasn’t just the wantaway talisman that was given the night off in a tournament that is clearly very low down on the club’s list of priorities.
But a combination of youngsters, fringe players and new signings failed to show any cohesion as Lucas Silva handed the hosts a slender lead to take to north London next week.
Asked if he had taken their opponents too lightly, Nuno said: “The decision was made and the main decision was to use all of the squad.”
However, the likes of Matt Doherty, Harry Winks and Ben Davies failed to stake their claim for a place on Sunday with a hugely disjointed display.
Speaking earlier this month, the Portuguese head coach suggested that the squad needed more balance, but warned fans it would be very difficult for new transfer expert Fabio Paratici to improve it.
Nuno said: “It’s easy to understand. While the transfer window is open, we have to be very, very aware of that.
“Because sometimes you have to react, sometimes you have to act.
“When I say act, our squad is talented and quality but we have to balance and there are positions that have to be well-balanced in terms of what we look for all the year.
“But like I say, it’s always hard to improve something that is good.
“We have to be really, really accurate on the players we bring because we have to bring things that we believe can make us better and stronger.
“It’s not easy because we have quality players with us.”
Well on this evidence, Nuno may have grossly overestimated the true quality of his back-ups as he continues his assessment of his new charges.
With his old club to come this weekend, he warned that the negative result has done a lot to dampen optimism after beating City.
He added: “It impacts a lot. Nobody likes to lose a game and not play well. The feelgood factor is gone but that’s football. Now we have to get it back on Sunday.”
Ryan Mason, the man that ended last season in the Spurs dugout, suggested the Europa Conference League wasn’t a tournament the players wanted to be in.
A repeat of that performance next week and they will have their wish.