Spotlight on Solskjaer masks Nuno’s struggles: Richard Buxton
With three defeats in his last six matches, Spurs boss must turn things around quickly
When Tottenham Hotspur host Manchester United on Sunday morning (Singapore time), it will not only be a clash of two sides fighting to keep pace with the top four.
It will also be a meeting of two beleaguered English Premier League managers .
Scrutiny of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's predicament at Old Trafford has taken the attention away from the malaise that Nuno Espirito Santo is presiding over in north London.
The Norwegian might be the bookmakers' favourite for the sack, but he remains safe for now, at least according to yesterday's reports.
Meanwhile, Nuno's odds as the next EPL manager to be fired has shortened, following Spurs' recent losses.
Last Sunday's 1-0 defeat at West Ham United was the Portuguese's fourth London Derby defeat this season, following last month's losses to Arsenal, Chelsea and Crystal Palace.
It was also a third defeat for the Lilywhites in their last six games in all competitions, which leaves an inevitable tipping point lurking on the horizon.
Another claret and blue debacle against Burnley in the League Cup's fourth round tomorrow morning would accelerate the downfall of the former Wolverhampton Wanderers boss.
Nuno's Spurs tenure has been layered in farce ever since a parade of candidates turned their noses up at the prospect of becoming Spurs manager and he was finally handed the job following a process which encompassed the great, good and downright controversial.
Antonio Conte spurned the north Londoners' overtures, after the Italian was reportedly unconvinced by the challenge they demanded of him, while Paulo Fonseca claimed that his penchant for playing attacking football saw the club head in a different direction at the eleventh hour.
Only fan backlash took Spurs' decision to appoint Gennaro Gattuso out of their own hands.
That highly muddled recruitment strategy has been mirrored on the pitch with suggestions that Nuno remains a poor fit in the English capital.
He has not disproved those suggestions with his own confusing methodology, which is compounded by a talented yet disenfranchised squad.
An expanded substitutes' bench at this stage of the competition, with five in-game changes now permitted thanks to Pep Guardiola's public intervention, is wasted on a manager whose hesitancy to utilise his full complement is becoming a recurring theme.
He waited until six minutes from time at the London Stadium to freshen up Tottenham's struggling charges before stubbornly insisting that the game was still "under control".
Even then, Harry Kane's ongoing sullenness at a failed move to Manchester City in the summer did not merit his withdrawal, despite Spurs' staggering inability to register a single shot on target in the second half.
The England captain continues to exhibit all the symptoms of a player who has mentally checked out of his boyhood team, possibly stung by chairman Daniel Levy's refusal to honour a "gentlemen's agreement" and sanction his £100 million (S$185.7m) departure.
He might be forgiven for going through the motions for more reasons than simply an unfulfilled switch to the reigning EPL champions.
Nuno's creation of a two-tiered squad system has only added to the confusion around life at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Most notably, midfielder Harry Winks is struggling to comprehend his continuing decline from regular starter with club and country to peripheral figure at Spurs.
His manager's attempts to keep established first-teamers apart from their fringe peers has not extended to the League Cup, where Nuno fielded a mix of the two as they scraped through against his former employers Wolves in the last round.
With United coming up next on Sunday morning, there are no guarantees that he will follow that same path at Turf Moor.
If he wants to outlast Solskjaer, however, there may be no alternative.