Nuno Espirito Santo has urged Tottenham to dream big and “go beyond our limits” with hard work key to winning over returning supporters.
Nuno’s first competitive match as Spurs head-coach is baptism of fire at home to champions Manchester City on Sunday.
Fans’ expectations for the match and beyond are more measured than before recent seasons following two-and-a-half years of inconsistent Premier League form and the gloom of Jose Mourinho’s tenure.
Nuno’s preparations for the new campaign have been overshadowed by Harry Kane’s desire to join City, and they are likely to line-up on Sunday with much the same side which limped to seventh last season.
The manager though offered a rousing message on the eve of the campaign, urging his players not be shackled by what they they believe is possible this season.
“Maybe I don’t show you – but I’m really excited,” Nuno said.
“Football is about playing matches in beautiful stadiums against tough opponents that make you go beyond what you think is possible to do.
“This is what I feel. I feel that we have to go beyond all the limits that football naturally imposes on you. You have to go much further. I’m feeling that, the players are feeling that, we just want to play, test ourselves, go beyond our limits.
“In terms of expectations, Tottenham is a huge club, fantastic club, very talented squad but we can only focus on tomorrow (Saturday). After tomorrow, we will focus on the game and think about the game.
“We will think again, working hard, being together, creating a unit, going day by day in our lives.”
Nuno’s appointment on June 30 followed a protracted and chaotic search for Mourinho’s permanent successor and was widely considered underwhelming by fans.
Despite his success and popularity at Wolves, the Portuguese has a reputation for reactive football, at odds with chairman Daniel Levy’s desire to appoint a coach to play on the front foot and entertain.
Spurs, though, believe Nuno will adapt to a new squad and culture, although the manager insists his priority is to build a “solid” team in defence and attack, underpinned by work ethic.
Asked to explain his fundamental principles and the kind of football he wanted to play, Nuno said: “One of the things we are focused on is to be solid.
“And when I say solid, it’s not solid in defence or offence, it’s to be solid [overall]. Solid is knowing all the moments of the game we must give answers in terms of tasks that enable us to be solid during the game.
“That is organisation, clear tasks for our players and after that try to explore all the talent that we have based on our organisation.
“Then [the most important] words that I can say to you guys is work, work, work. We have to work very hard because I believe this is the best way that we will make our fans proud.”
Spurs will welcome back a capacity crowd for the first time since March 2020 on Sunday, and Nuno said his players can feed off the atmosphere against Pep Guardiola’s formidable side.
“We will work very hard,” he said. “I’m sure the fans will enjoy it because the players are so willing to play in our stadium, Sunday is going to be amazing.
“We had the first contact with the fans in the game with Arsenal, it was huge, there was 20,000 and Sunday is going to be 64,000 and you can imagine the adrenaline that we are all going to feel and we have to absorb this and what the fans give us and put it on the pitch.
“The best way is to work, enjoy the game, compete, every ball is important, every moment is important. This is how I see the games, action after action, always giving answers to tough questions that the opponents are going to give us.”
Nuno has urged all his squad to get vaccinated but says he does not believe it should be mandatory for Premier League players.
The Premier League has no plans to make vaccines mandatory for players but the government is considering ruling that all match attendees must have had two doses from October 1.
“This is a personal opinion, I encourage everybody in society to get vaccination because the pandemic is still there, everybody is suffering with it,” Nuno said.
“We see the problems and the suffering of everybody so vaccine is a solution so I encourage everybody to do the vaccination.
“But I also respect all the individual decisions of basic players. If someone decides that it’s not good for him I respect that. I will try to understand why. But at the end of the day I will respect their decision. It’s an individual decision but if you ask me do I encourage, yes I do.”
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