Tottenham fires coach Nuno after losing half of EPL matches

LONDON (AP) — Booed and heckled by Tottenham supporters, Nuno Espírito Santo was fired on Monday following his fifth loss in 10 Premier League matches in charge of the club.

Now Tottenham has turned again to trying to hire Antonio Conte, one of the coaches it sought to recruit in a chaotic off-season process that ended up with Nuno being far from the first choice for the job.

Nuno’s dismissal, after only four months in the job, followed a 3-0 home loss to Manchester United on Saturday when his decisions were jeered and fans chanted “You don’t know what you’re doing” at the Portuguese coach.

In an increasingly volatile atmosphere, supporters also shouted “We want Levy out” at chairman Daniel Levy, who has now decided change is required again after firing Jose Mourinho in April.

The club said Nuno and his coaching staff had been “relieved of their duties” and that an update on the coaching “will follow in due course,” with no successor announced.

If a deal can be struck with Conte, it would mark a return to London after leaving Chelsea in 2018. Conte won the Premier League and FA Cup during two years in charge of the west London club and he departed financially-challenged Inter Milan after winning the Serie A title in May.

The Italian has the track record of winning major trophies that Nuno was lacking. He leaves with Tottenham in eighth place in the Premier League, 10 points behind leader Chelsea and five points behind fourth-placed West Ham in the pursuit of a Champions League place.

“I know how much Nuno and his coaching staff wanted to succeed and I regret that we have had to take this decision,” Tottenham managing director Fabio Paratici said. “Nuno is a true gentleman and will always be welcome here. We should like to thank him and his coaching staff and wish them well for the future.”

There was a prolonged 72-day search for Mourinho’s successor, via a spell with academy coach Ryan Mason as interim manager. Tottenham tried to re-hire Mauricio Pochettino and pursued Paulo Fonseca, Gennaro Gattuso and Conte before handing a two-year contract to Nuno.

The former Wolverhampton manager immediately had to grapple with the uncertainty over the future of Harry Kane, who was denied a move to Manchester City and has looked a shadow of the striker who was top scorer in the Premier League last season. Kane’s one goal in nine Premier League games and the failure to get a shot on target against United is reflective of Tottenham’s malaise.

That lack of attacking output has not been limited to Kane, with Tottenham scoring only nine goals in the 10 league games. Only winless Norwich has scored fewer goals and Tottenham matches the last-place club for the fewest total shots with 103.

While Son Heung-min has four goals, there’s just one league goal and an assist between attackers Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn, Dele Alli and off-season signing Bryan Gil.

Nuno only managed the club for 17 games in all competitions.

While he was voted Premier League manager of the month after winning the first three games of the season in August — starting against champion Manchester City — Tottenham has won only two of the seven games since then.

There has been progress in the League Cup to the quarterfinals but in the Europa Conference League Tottenham has won only one of three games.

The north London club qualified for Europe’s new third-tier competition after finishing seventh in the Premier League, a far cry from the four consecutive top-four Champions League finishes from 2016-2019 under Pochettino.

The Argentine even reached the Champions League final in 2019 despite being unable to make any signings that season, missing out on the title to Liverpool. A poor start to the following season led to him being fired in November 2019 and he is now top of the French league with Paris Saint-Germain.

Tottenham is still struggling to reach the standards set by Pochettino, and reproduce the high-tempo attacking football to attract fans into its two-year-old stadium which increased the club’s debt to 604.6 million pounds ($828 million) in its most recent financial report.

Tottenham hasn’t won a trophy since the 2008 League Cup and last won the league championship in 1961.

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