Monday’s big headlines
Nuno a no-no - but what about Levy?
As a Premier League manager your job is constantly in flux. Rumours swirl around you almost daily and newspapers and websites speculate feverishly about your job security with unseemly haste. Sometimes it must be hard to know when you are simply under a little pressure, or genuinely in trouble.
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However, there is one tell-tale sign that you have slipped into the latter state: when a TV director is focusing on your tortured face and seamlessly adjusts focus to a baying mob behind you, who are hurling insults and genuinely expressing bemusement about what is unfolding in front of their eyes.
It happened to Sam Allardyce at Newcastle, famously, and it happened again to Nuno Espirito Santo on Saturday as Spurs lost 3-0 to Manchester United at home - more precisely, when he removed Lucas Moura for Steven Bergwijn to widespread anger from a disillusioned home support.
As soon as that moment occurred, you knew there was no coming back. Spurs fans were also heard signing “we want Nuno out” in only his 10th league match in charge. And by Sunday, reports emerged that he was on the brink of the sack. On Monday just before 10am, that news was confirmed.
Something must have gone stratospherically wrong with Nuno’s management for this to unfold before November, right?
- Revealed: Tottenham's shortlist to replace Nuno - Paper Round
- Opinion: Spurs mustn't sack Nuno before they have a clear plan
Well, only partially. Clearly Nuno didn't get things right at Tottenham. But The Warm-Up would suggest this was not his fault. Not unreasonably, having been recruited when everyone had a very clear idea of what his style of football is, he tried to implement it. The trouble was that his style of football is exactly the opposite of what Tottenham supporters expect. It was this way on the day they appointed him, and remained so until the day they sacked him.
It’s as though Spurs asked an airplane pilot to try and captain a cruise ship and were then annoyed that he drove straight into the nearest iceberg. The job and the incumbent were simply not compatible.
Cautious football and sideways passing might be acceptable at Wolves, but not Spurs. And the fact their last shot on target came in the first half of their defeat to West Ham on October 24 speaks volumes as to what went wrong with a team which has Harry Kane up front. But was it really Nuno's fault that he was so fundamentally wrong for Tottenham?
It's hard not to conclude that the real villain of the piece is someone else.
Maybe someone who is still trying to undo the fatal error of sacking the best manager Spurs have had in a generation. Someone who oversaw a Jose Mourinho disasterclass despite all the warning signs and then tried to appoint about seven other managers before finally deciding on a man who is fundamentally incompatible with Tottenham’s desires as a club. Someone who botched the Harry Kane situation this summer by refusing to cash in on a player who is now offering so little to the team. Someone who alienated many supporters with the rush to back the Super League.
Daniel Levy has done plenty of fine work for Tottenham over the years but it’s been error after error since dispensing with Mauricio Pochettino. The way football works, it’s never going to be Levy in front of the baying mob inside the stadium. And unless he gets a proper handle on things along with managing director Fabio Paratici, the cycle could continue with the next man in charge.
The utter futility of Norwich City FC
One of the more remarkable stats coming out of the weekend’s football is that Norwich have now amassed a mighty two points from their past 20 - *TWENTY* - Premier League matches, following a 2-1 home defeat to Leeds on Sunday.
Prior to the weekend, sporting director Stuart Webber even had to come out and give an interview to Sky Sports insisting that Norwich are actually trying to stay in the division.
"We're not accepting this yo-yo tag or 'they've given up' or 'they've accepted relegation'. No, not at all," he said. "We're the 11th highest spenders in Europe. By all means, criticise us for spending badly if that's what people think but don't criticise us for not spending because that's not the truth. People say we're not having a go, that's completely unfair.”
You can understand his frustration. Norwich are trying to stay in the Premier League, they are just absolutely terrible at doing so. Historically bad, potentially, with Derby Country’s infamous 11-point season looking like a daunting milestone at present.
The Moyes question
The Warm-Up must be honest, it did not anticipate the season would unfold so strangely that by the end of October, some people would be attempting revisionist history on David Moyes’ reign at Manchester United and wondering whether he wasn’t actually all that bad, you know.
A combination of United’s struggles under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and West Ham’s superb form under Moyes, with a 4-1 win away at Villa yesterday having them sitting comfortably above United in fourth spot, has drawn some to that conclusion. Which is, of course, nonsense.
Moyes wasn’t the right man for United but he clearly is the right man for West Ham right now - different managers succeed at different clubs in different contexts. And it’s enough that he’s repairing his reputation so successfully at the moment rather than trying to retrospectively rehabilitate what was clearly a terrible mismatch.
IN THE CHANNELS 1
He might be the wrong side of 40, but if there’s anyone on planet earth who is the walking embodiment of the phrase ‘age is just a number’ it’s surely Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who just can’t stop being good at football.
Last night he scored this smart free-kick as AC Milan beat Roma 2-1 to stay level on points with Napoli at the top of Serie A. Nine wins and one draw from their 10 games have Milan in a very handy position.
IN THE CHANNELS 2
You will likely have seen this already but it’s worth just having another look at Aaron Ramsdale’s incredible save to deny James Maddison from a free-kick on Saturday.
And it got quite the official seal of approval…
We’ve got some Monday night football on the menu as Wolves take on Everton in the Premier League. The English Open snooker is also on this week with Stephen Hendry joining the usual cast of big names. You can watch that live all week on discovery+.
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