A s part of Tottenham’s preparation for their Europa Conference League opener against Rennes tonight, Nuno Espirito Santo and his staff will have watched back Saturday’s defeat by Crystal Palace.
It will, no doubt, have been a painful analysis session, with Spurs shipping three goals. But perhaps the most alarming thing that will have caught their eye was Tottenham’s lack of creativity. They managed just two shots — one of which was on target — during 90 minutes.
England captain Harry Kane was a bystander, so much so that for the first time in his Premier League career he had neither a shot nor a touch in the opposition’s box in a game where he had completed the full 90 minutes.
“Everybody realises we didn’t perform as we wanted, and the first ones who realise this are ourselves,” said Nuno.
“The best way to improve is when you arrive, analyse personally and are able to identify the things you need to do well. This is the first step to improvement. It’s up to us. All of us.
“We give the players our help to try to find solutions to perform better. That’s our job. And they have a responsibility to perform.”
The Europa Conference League should provide Tottenham with the platform to rediscover their creative spirit and find their attacking verve.
Tonight’s clash is arguably Spurs’s toughest assignment of Group G, with matches against Dutch side Vitesse and Slovenian club Mura to follow, and the competition presents Nuno’s side with a rare opportunity to play with the shackles off. The pressures of the Premier League do not exist in the Europa Conference League, which is essentially Europe’s answer to the Carabao Cup.
The calibre of opposition, and the chance to play with less pressure, should give Tottenham the chance to find their attacking mojo and Nuno was asked yesterday about how to fix a lack of creativity.
“Training, training, spending as much time as we can on the training ground,” he said.
“Preparing the players, trying to find solutions and then give them the support and the confidence to compete and improve their performances. I don’t know any other recipes for success.”
A change in personnel could help Spurs and it should be noted their attacking struggles have coincided with Giovani Lo Celso and Heung-min Son being unavailable.
Nuno could look to shuffle his pack tonight, though, and add some attacking spark by bringing in Bryan Gil and Tanguy Ndombele. Neither of them got off the bench against Palace, but Rennes feels like an opportune moment to give them a chance to shine.
“We looked at Rennes and analyse them as a team from the previous game and the game before,” said Nuno.
“We know we are going to find a tough match, a tough team, one that is very aggressive on the pressing, playing at home, we know it is going to be harder.