Last night’s Europa Conference League clash with Rennes looked like the perfect confidence booster ahead of Sunday’s match against Chelsea, but instead it has left Spurs’ squad even more depleted.
Throw in the fact Cristian Romero, Giovani Lo Celso and Davinson Sanchez will not return to the UK until tomorrow, as they have been quarantining in Croatia after defying Premier League rules to travel to South America for international duty, and you can see why Nuno has described the situation as “terrible”.
“I must be honest. Let’s not hide behind anything,” he said. “After the Watford game, everything that has happened has not been very good for us. But this is football. And we know it’s a moment we have to overcome.”
There were few positives for Nuno to take back home from France, but the performance of Tanguy Ndombele was one of them.
Ndombele asked to leave the club during the transfer window and was not selected by Nuno during pre-season or any of Spurs’ five matches in August.
The midfielder, however, now wants to fight for his place at Tottenham and he was handed a start last night.
The Frenchman had some rust to shake off but he showed glimpses of his talent. His backheel to start the move for Spurs’s opening goal was typically off the cuff from Ndombele and in stark contrast to the lack of creativity offered by his team-mates.
Tottenham are lacking a spark in attack — which is not too surprising given their selection issues — and Ndombele did enough last night to show why he should start against Chelsea. He looked the most likely to make something happen for Spurs and the talent in his game makes him a project Nuno should persevere with.
In the end, given how events transpired, Tottenham may look back on this draw with Rennes as a point gained rather than two lost. They started well and took the lead after 11 minutes courtesy of a Loic Bade own goal, but from there they lost control.
Rennes roared back and equalised through Flavian Tait. They dominated the first half and Bergwijn limping off only added to Spurs’s woes.
When Gaetan Laborde put Rennes ahead in the 71st minute that looked like it for Tottenham, however Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg rescued a point by equalising five minutes later.
“It is hard to judge all the game with all the circumstances that happened,” said Nuno. “But we finished well, we showed character.”
Nuno will need his walking wounded to show even more character at Chelsea on Sunday.