Coach Nuno is the football world's breath of fresh air

Coach Nuno is the football world's breath of fresh air
Valencia coach Nuno Santo.

Across many American sports, cameras will go close, really close to the touchline, to hear tactical instructions and let fans see every drop of perspiration behind the inspiration.

Such a concept is still taboo in football. But Valencia manager Nuno Espirito Santo thinks differently. He wants to welcome journalists and television crews into the inner sanctum of the dressing room, to eavesdrop on team talks, to see the coaching staff and players raw, without moderation from PR officers. Valencia Unplugged, if he has things his way.

"There are no secrets," the 40-year-old - who spent two days in Singapore before departing back to Spain yesterday evening - told The Straits Times in fluent English.

It seemed fitting that his comments were made as Valencia's Singapore fans made themselves feel welcome at the club's Singapore media session at Brewerkz, Riverside Point, where selfies and autograph requests were never turned down.

"Every team knows each other's tactics. I certainly would like media coverage to be in the style of American sports where you can hear the coach giving instructions to his players live on television."

Because he is young, Portuguese and has a five o'clock shadow, the Jose Mourinho comparisons arise.

But it is Nuno's many-faceted ability in the dugout that likened him to the Chelsea boss in the first place.

"Nuno is very clear when he expresses himself," noted new club signing Rodrigo.

"The players totally understand his instructions. We see him as a leader and I think he will have a great career."

Nuno had a journeyman career as a goalkeeper, playing for clubs like Spain's Deportivo La Coruna, Portugal's Porto and Russia's Dynamo Moscow from 1992 to 2010.

Portuguese top division club Rio Ave made him manager in 2012 and he led them to a creditable sixth-place finish in the league.

They were runners-up in the Portuguese Cup and League Cup last year.

Then came the call from Valencia. "How can you say no to an offer like this?" Nuno said.

"Mr Lim has a gift. He gives you belief and confidence, he makes you believe that things will turn out all right."

Even the cloud of a short one-year contract has not dampened his mood.

He replied: "My obligation is to prepare the team to win, get the players to go beyond limits.

"If it happens, things will come naturally. I am not obsessed with the length of my contract."

And if he succeeds, he might find himself poached, just as Mourinho's career path unfolded.

But Nuno instantly shot back: "I am already the manager of a big club that will grow even bigger. I am delighted to have the job."


This article was first published on September 03, 2014.
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