If "To Dare Is To Do" then why did Spurs appoint Nuno?

"To Dare Is To Do" is a motto and a way of life for Tottenham Hotspur that dates way back to the 14th century. According to some sources the family of Sir Henry Percy, a nobleman who rose to fame during the Anglo-Saxon wars, owned large chunks of land where White Hart Lane (their old stadium) was built. This motto has been associated with the club and it has always been known as one to play free-flowing, attacking football, so why change now?

When Jose Mourinho was appointed to replace Mauricio Pochettino in November 2019 there was a sense of achievement by Tottenham Chairman, Daniel Levy in attracting one of the most successful managers in the game to a club that, with all due respect challenged for the top four at best. However, knowing Jose Mourinho teams, Spurs fans knew they weren't getting a "To Dare Is To Do" manager. Jose Mourinho was more of a "Let The Other Team Do" manager. Less than a year and a half later Mourinho was sacked with the club in 7th position in the Premier League. Ryan Mason took the reigns and saw out the season.

Former Spurs and now Roma boss, Jose Mourinho

With 4 months until the start of the new season, Levy had time to find the perfect replacement for Mourinho. There were rumours of Pochettino being the favourite, then Antonio Conte, Gennaro Gattuso and also Julen Lopetegui. Spurs finally decided on Nuno Espirito Santo, the former Wolverhampton Wanderers boss. He guided Wolves to 1st place in the Championship and then 7th, 7th and 13th in the Premier League which is remarkable and rightly earned Nuno a chance at a bigger club than Wolves... but why Spurs?

When assessing a football club, we at Four Nations Football Consulting (4NFC) believe that the first thing a club needs to do is to understand who they are and why they are where they are. Spurs have always been a club that dare's to do, that plays front-foot, free-flowing, attacking football, it is written in their motto.

Former Wolves boss and current Spurs boss, Nuno Espirito Santo

During the process of recruiting a new manager, 4NFC utilises our proprietary football club strength rating model to assess possible candidates. The model ranks football clubs based on their expected goals for and against in every match (local and in European competition). These rankings show attacking and defending rankings, allowing the user to identify clubs that inherently attack and/or defend well. For a club that plays an attacking brand of football, let's look at how their new manager really fared at Wolves:

In his 3 seasons that Nuno managed Wolves in the Premier League our model ranked them as follows in the Premier League (PL) as well as the Top 5 European Leagues (Top 5 Leagues):

It is evident that with an average PL squad, in terms of squad market value, Nuno managed Wolves extremely well, defensively. He also got results, which is reflected in the league positions he managed in his 3 seasons in the Premier League. However, it is clear that with the squad at his disposal he struggled to get the attacking return from his team that their quality merited. So why would Daniel Levy appoint a defensive mastermind (another Mourinho) as manager of a club who has an attacking philosophy engrained throughout their club?

Perhaps the Covid-19 pandemic's effect on a club that is paying off a £850 million new stadium forced Levy's hand in appointing managers that have good winning records (and get them into the Champions League), rather than play attractive football.

Apparently Fabio Paratici, Spurs' new Director of Football, wanted a more "defensive coach" and turned down former Roma boss, Paulo Fonseca, despite Fonseca passing the Daniel Levy interview. This is how Fonseca's Roma compared to Nuno's Wolves in the 2 seasons that Fonseca was in charge in Rome:

It is clear to see that Fonseca is a very attacking coach and Nuno quite the opposite but it seems that with very similar results Tottenham could have hired a manager that suits their philosophy, "To Dare Is To Do". Fonseca might not have been the most suited to the Spurs job but he was definitely more suited than Nuno. Now, only 6 games into the new Premier League season and 2 months into a 2-year contract, Nuno Espirito Santo is the bookies' favourite to be the first Premier League manager to be sacked.

To find out more about our proprietary football club strength rating model and how it can benefit your club or organisation, don't hesitate to contact us at for a demonstration.