One of the big questions ahead of Nuno Espirito Santo’s appointment as head coach at Tottenham Hotspur, as well as in the immediate aftermath, was who would make up his team of assistants and backroom staff . Now we have our answer. Tottenham tweeted today that Nuno is bringing three of his Wolves squad with him –
✍️ We can confirm the nominations of Ian Cathro, Rui Barbosa and Antonio Dias to the coaching staff of head coach Nuno Espírito Santo.
– Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) July 3, 2021
Ledley King, who was named to Jose Mourinho’s assistant staff as a defensive coach last year, is notably missing from that list. Instead, Ledley is returning to his former role as club ambassador and will not have coaching responsibilities. Ryan Mason, meanwhile, has returned to his former role as player development manager at Tottenham academy.
So we have three assistants: Ian Cathro, Rui Barbosa and Antonio Dias. Awesome! But who exactly are they and what do they do? Tim Spiers wrote a great breakdown of Wolves’ coaching staff a year ago, which gives a glimpse of what they can bring to Spurs. At the Athletic (£)!
Ian Cathro is the only non-Portuguese member of Nuno’s staff, and arguably the most important, carrying the title of assistant head coach. A Scottish man, he is probably best known in his own country for his disastrous fate as manager at Hearts of Midlothian which only lasted seven months before being fired, and which saw him end up with the descriptor of ” laptop manager “. But Cathro also has experience as a top assistant to Rafa Benitez and Steve McClaren. Cathro worked with Nuno in Rio Ave and Valencia, in addition to Wolves.
Cathro and Nuno have an important connection to the way they want football to be played. He would love the training ground and work directly with the players, and Nuno described him as a ‘genius’.
Antonio Dias is Nuno’s physical trainer and has been with Nuno at every stage of his managerial career. Athletic describe him as one of the best in his region in the world, and is primarily responsible for improving the fitness level of Wolves they could surpass with a squad smaller than most Premier League sides. , and without picking up nearly as many injuries.
Barbosa is Nuno’s longtime goalkeeper coach, having worked with him at Rio Ave and Porto. He is considered a player coach, a prankster who quickly gains the respect and admiration of the players on his teams. It’s also likely a mark in his favor that Nuno gave him the keepers, as Espirito Santo himself was once a keeper.
The Wolves of Nuno team is notably missing Rui Silva, the former chief assistant of Espirito Santo. Silva functioned more as a link between the game staff and Nuno; he had more administrative responsibilities and was less of a tactical coach on the field. In this role, he served as a buffer between players and staff who wanted to approach or talk to Nuno about various issues; these people would have to go through Silva first.
It’s curious that Nuno decided to move on without Silva, who, along with Dias, has been a part of his team from the start. I haven’t seen anything yet on why Silva wasn’t included or if they decided to go their separate ways before the Spurs post, but negotiations over staff numbers are now part of the process. hiring of several candidates. It is possible that Nuno was only able to bring three assistants and these are the ones he chose.
The close bond Nuno has formed within his team is remarkable in Athletic’s article. This connection is evident both on the sidelines during games (Nuno’s assistants were known for a close celebration after every goal) to the activities and bonding exercises with the players during and after training. Wolves watchers have described a ‘siege mentality’ among the team and coaching staff and it is clear that Nuno and his team have worked to develop an ‘us versus them’ mindset that only works if everyone is on the same page. This has been particularly lacking in the past two years at Tottenham. Hopefully Nuno bringing elements of his tight-knit squad to Spurs will promote something similar.