Nuno Espirito Santo has defied expectations since joining Wolves and has earned the right to take on a bigger job. He became Wolverhampton Wanderers head coach on the 31 May 2017. Nuno began his footballing career as a goalkeeper, representing his country Portugal at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics games and the Euro 2008 held in Austria. Nuno was also part of the Porto squad that won the 2002-03 UEFA cup and the 2003-04 UEFA Champions League under the Special One Jose Mourinho. After retiring in 2010, he went into coaching and re-joined former Porto manager Jesualdo Ferreira at Malaga as a goalkeeping coach.
Has Nuno earned the right to be called one of the best?
Nuno went into mainstream coaching, and in 2012, he became the head coach for Rio Ave. He qualified Rio Ave to the UEFA Europa League for the first time in its history. He did a decent job there before Valencia came calling in 2014. During his reign at Valencia, he was named as La Liga manager of the month three times. In 2016, Nuno became the head coach of Porto, but after a season devoid of silverware, he was relieved of his duties. In 2017 a championship club came for his services. The move to Wolves was like three steps back in his coaching career. Although he was not one of the world’s best coaches, he had managed a Champions league-winning team before, but moving from Valencia and Porto to a championship club like Wolves was a surprise to everyone. Nuno has turned Wolves from a Championship side into a Premier League side in his first season at Wolves, finishing nine points clear over second-place Sheffield United. His reputation as a manager has grown exponentially in his tenure as manager of Wolves. With a decent budget behind him and a couple of talented players from his native country Portugal, he has turned Wolves into one of the Premier League’s most exceptional teams. His preferred formation is the 5-3-2 with an extra midfielder giving more solidity, and his team plays exciting, expansive football and score goals for fun. Last season, Wolves finished seventh in the Premier League in the manager’s debut season in the Premier League.
Wolverhampton Wanderers are now in the round of 16 in the Europa League. Nuno has managed 142 games for Wolves, winning 75 games, drawing 34, and losing 33 games. It’s safe to say that Nuno hasn’t looked back since getting his managerial job in England. Those numbers speak for itself and are impressive, considering that Nino had never managed in the Premier League before. Nuno has displayed a Midas touch and particularly against the top six clubs. Since Wolves’ return to the Premier League, they have been a thorn in the flesh of the Manchester clubs. They have met Man United 6 times in all competitions since last season and have won twice, drawn thrice and lost one. Man United are yet to beat them in a Premier League match. This season, Man City has suffered back to back losses against Wolves. Among the 35 managers that Pep Guardiola has faced at least five times in his managerial career, his lowest win ratio is against Nuno Espirito.
The Premier League is considered arguably the best league in the world. The fact that Nuno has achieved these feats with such a small, tight-knit squad is a testament to everyone that Nuno indeed deserves to be called one of the best coaches in the world at the moment.
What next for Nuno Espirito?
As goalkeeper turned elite coach, Nuno has already broken the mold as a coach, and there seems little to stop him from going higher. There is not a lot of success with goalkeepers becoming Head coaches, but Nuno has proved that wrong. It is not surprising that the biggest clubs in the world are now paying close attention to Nuno’s work, and Wolves owners should be prepared to fight tooth and nail to keep him because his time at the club might be coming to an end.
The likes of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Frank Lampard are being given top jobs at Manchester United and Chelsea because of their status as former iconic players rather than managerial nous or achievements. As such, Nuno deserves to be coaching a top club in England, Italy, or Spain if that is the case.