London – New Tottenham Hotspur manager Nuno Espirito Santo spoke of his pride in his team as his reign began with a 1-0 victory over Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday.
The build-up to Espirito Santo’s first campaign in north London has been clouded by striker Harry Kane’s potential move to join the all-star cast at City.
But when the final whistle rang out, the capacity crowd sang Espirito Santo’s name and chanted “Are you watching Harry Kane?”
Kane was left out of the squad by the Portuguese, having trained alone under Covid-19 quarantine restrictions for most of the week after returning from holiday, but he was not missed.
Espirito Santo set up his Tottenham side to defend calmly and counter-attack and it was from one devastating link-up between Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn and Son Heung-min that Son scored the 55th-minute winner.
There were impressive performances all around for Tottenham with Japhet Tanganga a rock at right back against City’s new £100 million (RM587 million) signing Jack Grealish while 20-year-old midfielder Oliver Skipp looked assured in midfield on just his fourth Premier League start.
And Kane’s usual accomplice Son, who has just signed a new four-year contract, carried the attack superbly.
“It was good I think. The atmosphere was special off the hard work of the boys. They make any crowd proud when they work so hard,” Espirito Santo, who enjoyed a third Premier League win over City boss Pep Guardiola, said.
“It was strong. We were lucky because they had chances but the boys held on and they stayed in the game. We knew it would be tough. After that first 20 minutes we did better and we started getting our chances.
“I’m sure that with commitment and the talent we have, we will be a good team. We are in the process of that. I am learning every day and I am very proud of them today.”
Espirito Santo, who enjoyed an impressive stint at Wolverhampton Wanderers, finally became Tottenham’s new manager in July after a protracted search by the London club.
He made an instant impact, however, as Tottenham claimed a third successive home league win over City.
Tireless throughout the 90 minutes, his side were a constant menace on the break and it was a deserved victory.
“In terms of shape and our organisation the front three worked very hard and closed the gaps. It’s very difficult to play against City with the way they build the first moment. It requires a lot of discipline so the boys did okay,” he said.
Inevitably, Espirito Santo was asked about Kane after the win. Again he gave little away.
“Look, Harry Kane is one of the best players in the world, honestly. We are very lucky to have him,” he said.
“He has to get ready and help the team. We still have to go to Portugal then we think about Wolves.” — Reuters