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Spurs thrash minnows but cavalry call shows Nuno’s desperation


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n a different context, Nuno Espirito Santo’s triple-substitution on the hour would have been a masterclass.

One of his substitutes, Harry Kane, scored a 20-minute hat-trick to ensure there would be no sensational comeback for NS Mura in the Europa Conference League.

Kane’s first goal was assisted by Lucas Moura and the second by Heung-min Son, the other two subs part of Nuno’s triple-change, as Spurs thrashed the Slovenian minnows 5-1.

But Spurs really shouldn’t need the cavalry to rescue a victory over the lowest-ranked side playing European football this season, according to Uefa’s coefficient.

They should be be getting through this type of game comfortably without Kane, Son and Lucas.

The decision to introduce the trio shortly after Ziga Kous had spectacularly halved the deficit for the visitors spoke of the manager’s fragile confidence and smacked, slightly, of desperation.

Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I

A clinical hat-trick of close range finishes could kickstart Kane’s stuttering season but Nuno needs to have confidence that he can give his first-team players the occasional night off over the course of the campaign without needing them for a rescue mission.

It was the same story in the League Cup at Wolves earlier this month, when Nuno was forced to introduce Son in the second half after his former club had equalised from 2-0 down.

It was also a pattern under Jose Mourinho, who often called for the big guns during insipid performances in the Europa League last season.

The obvious conclusion to draw is that Spurs’ fringe players are simply not up to the job.

Scarlett needs time to develop

With Kane benched, Dane Scarlett made his first senior home start for Spurs as one of nine changes from the dismal defeat to Arsenal.


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