Former Arsenal and England star Paul Merson feels the Tottenham squad is no longer playing for manager Nuno Espirito Santo and his days in charge at the club are numbered.
Nuno, 47, stepped into the Spurs hotseat in June as a permanent replacement for Jose Mourinho. The self-styled ‘Special One’ was sacked on April 19, with Ryan Mason taking the reins until the end of the season. Many names were linked with the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium before the ex-Wolves chief was unveiled.
And there was a sense that he was not the first choice of chairman Daniel Levy. There were many issues for Nuno to sort out, not least the future of Harry Kane.
That saga has ended for now, with the England skipper pledging his future to the club. Three straight wins at the start of the campaign was encouraging.
However, things have now turned sour, with 3-0 losses to Crystal Palace and Chelsea before a 3-1 North London derby defeat. Performances have been limp, especially the way they surrendered to Arsenal at the Emirates.
Next up is the visit of Aston Villa on Sunday. And, pulling no punches on the manager’s predicament, Merson is adamant it is a must-win fixture.
“Nuno has lost the players at Tottenham and if they lose this weekend I don’t see how he survives the international break,” he wrote in The Daily Star. “I think he’s got 90 minutes against Aston Villa to turn it around. Daniel Levy is no mug. He knows when managers are up against it with the players.
“You can tell. Nuno has lost the dressing room already. Completely and utterly. They don’t seem that interested.”
Nuno facing make or break period
The Premier League will take a backward step after this weekend’s games as another international break takes centre stage. It will give both the manager and board time to mull over what has happened so far this term.
And Merson believes that unless the former Porto chief can pull something out of the fire, he is done for.
“Nuno will know he’s bang in trouble. He’s sweating on these players. If he turns it around after what happened against Arsenal he’ll have done an unbelievable job,” he added.
“This is a dangerous time for managers. If you’re in trouble, you will do well to get through a two-week international break and keep your job.
“That’s the time when clubs start looking around and thinking about making a change. There are big managers out there.”