Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo will step down after the final round of the Premier League season on Sunday, ending a four-year spell in which he led the club out of the second division and into the Europa League quarter-finals.
The Portuguese coach has been linked with the vacant role at Tottenham, which is looking for a full-time manager following the departure of Jose Mourinho last month. Wolves announced Nuno’s departure “by mutual agreement” on Friday.
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Bringing in several Portugal internationals, Nuno got Wolves promoted to the Premier League at the end of his first year in charge before stabilizing the squad in the top division with back-to-back seventh-place finishes. They also reached the Europa League quarter-finals last season, losing to eventual winners Sevilla.
Wolves cannot finish higher than 12th in the league this season heading into their last game, at home to Manchester United, when up to 10,000 fans will be allowed into Molineux.
“Sunday will be a very emotional day,” Nuno said, “but I am so happy that the fans will be back in Molineux and we can share one last special moment together, as one pack.”
The team have had an underwhelming campaign, not helped by long-term injuries to key players such Mexico striker Raul Jimenez and Spain defender Jonny Castro Otto.
Nuno has also tried to bring a more attacking, expansive philosophy to a team whose style in theor first two seasons in the Premier League was to play on the counterattack. That occasionally has involved ditching his long-preferred 3-5-2 formation to play four at the back.
It hasn’t really worked out, with Wolves among the toughest teams to watch teams this season. Only the bottom four teams have scored fewer goals than Wolves’ 35 from 37 games.
Still, Nuno has demonstrated, especially in the first two seasons in the Premier League, that he has the tactical acumen to coach at a bigger team.
“Nuno has brought us some incredibly special moments at Wolves that will never be forgotten, but every chapter comes to an end,” Wolves executive chairman Jeff Shi said. “His loyalty and dedication over the last four years has been immeasurable, and we cannot thank him enough for the progress he has made for Wolves.”
Wolves said that Jimenez, the team’s star player, should be able to play a “full part” for the club next season. He recently returned to training following a fractured skull sustained in a league game against Arsenal in November.
“Further match-based rehabilitation will start in July and will be tightly controlled initially,” club doctor Matt Perry said. “This respects the fact that although his recovery appears to be total, there is a big step from training to competition.”