Tottenham have scored goals under Nuno Espirito Santo, but they’ve made hard work of that at times.
Blessed with one of the best finishers on the planet in Harry Kane, Spurs are yet to figure out how to actually get the ball to him enough. They have lacked creativity in abundance so far, so when Tanguy Ndombele was brought back into the starting lineup for Thursday’s meeting with Rennes, there was hope that Nuno may have found his answer.
Did he? Well, not exactly.
Clearly playing with a chip on his shoulder after seeing his exile brought to an end, Ndombele came out like a house on fire. He linked up with Kane and the rest of his team-mates so well early on, and his glorious flick in the build-up to Lucas Moura’s deflected opener had fans’ mouths watering.
And then he did an Ndombele.
For the remaining 30 minutes of the first half, Ndombele was almost non-existent. Perhaps he was lacking fitness – his last start came on April 21 – or perhaps he is still struggling to come up with a way to put in maximum effort 100% of the time.
Despite that underwhelming ending to the half, Ndombele was still Spurs‘ best midfielder and deservedly stayed on to start the second half, in which he again began in outstanding form.
His link-up play with Kane was again on show as he worked his way into the box for a good chance, and he continued to flex his physicality and skill as he tried to get something going for Spurs, albeit with very underwhelming end product.
The talent is there. It’s there. It’s just a case of figuring out how to maintain it.
On his first start under Nuno, Ndombele deserves some slack. He’s still trying to figure out a new system and is also building himself back up after a hectic summer.
Importantly, the promising signs were there. He wanted to get forward and make the most of Kane’s playmaking tendencies. Ndombele made a point of trying to be his side’s spark, and that won’t be lost on Nuno.
In a midfield which features Harry Winks or Oliver Skipp side-passing the life out of the opponents and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg doing all the forward running, someone of Ndombele’s skill set is absolutely vital.
He proved he is up for the role, but until he answers the questions about his consistency, the doubts surrounding Ndombele will continue to linger.