The head coach has a squad of just 16 outfield players and three goalkeepers for the Premier League campaign but knows he can rely on the young players from the under-23s to make up the numbers when called upon.
Despite using the fewest players in the Premier League this season, Nuno feels is that a smaller squad can have its advantages as every player is always involved, leading to greater bonds.
On his team’s bond off the pitch
“If you know each other better outside of the pitch, when you are inside of the competition, their relationship it’s easier. The respect is there, the friendship is there, the common effort has to come in the right moment.
“Of course, we care about their home lives and their problems, it’s the job of the club to provide all that can help them, for the player to come here and just perform. Train and play.
“It began from last season, but it’s a growing process that started a long time ago. We started with a small squad, now we have an even smaller squad.
“It’s our philosophy, it’s a belief that the squad being short, everybody’s involved, has time of competition, and the relationship between them increases the more hours they spend together. The complicity, knowing small details that can help.”
On players adapting to Premier League
“Everyone was very good, but I think all that we built last season helped us. We didn’t change, so we just have to continue. Obviously, the points are different, but the game is the same. You just have to focus on what you do, what you want to do, and how you want to play and then work.
“The squad knows the team and the players have ups and downs, there are moments that requires other solutions, that requires another approach; we have to adapt, we have to look for the best way.”
On having a small squad
“It’s an idea that we have. We started with 18 players, plus the goalies, now we have 16, plus the keepers. Of course, we have the back-ups of the under-23s, but it’s not a question of easy or difficult.
“It’s our philosophy, it’s our idea of having a strong and compact squad that allows us to make good decisions. If it’s the same players, over and over again, training together, passing the ball to each other, timing their runs, all these small details that can help so a deep knowledge of your teammates it really helps with the tasks he has to do.
“The squad must work well, then we have to decide the 11 and the players that come in, but although we have a small squad, everybody’s involved at the same time.
“Even if they don’t play, they are still involved in the competition, so that makes it easier when the player steps into the team, they know their task and what they have to do inside the dynamic of the team.
“What I really encourage is the players to prepare well, focus on their work, because when the chance comes we must perform.”
On how players can break into starting 11
“He does everything that he needs to do, then we have to make a decision. It’s a squad that works well. Each game has its own analysis and its own approach, and we have to decide.
“Sometimes we decide to have one player in and think about having to make someone a sub; it’s using the squad, it’s having a game plan and knowing that you have ‘weapons’ you can use during the season or during the game.
“The player has to do what they all are doing – and doing it very well – and wait for the moment to come.”
On international break
“It’s not a nervous time for me and it’s not about being nervous, it’s about knowing that we are very proud, we are very proud that our players are going away with their national teams.
“Being able to compete for their own countries is very important for them and what it means to them. We encourage them, but at the same time what we want is for them to return healthy and to continue their work here at the club.
“But it’s not about being nervous, it’s about watching games and hoping for the best.”