Harry Kane demonstrated why he will have to face up to reality and move on from Spurs if he ever wants to win a major trophy, as his side drew 2-2 at Newcastle United.
The 27-year-old England international recently explained that he would be waiting until the conclusion of the rearranged Euro 2020 tournament before he would commit to one choice or another. That is not the statement of a player who is keen to stay for much longer, and it is probably merely a diplomatic way of waiting for an offer from a bigger side to see if he can finally jump ship.
For a couple of years under Mauricio Pochettino, as the club were improving, and young players were growing together, it made sense for Kane to become a leader, stay as the focus of the side, and see where it took him. It almost brought him a Premier League but the side lost out to Leicester City. It almost brought him a Champions League but Liverpool were simply too good as they started to peak, at least for the first time, under Jurgen Klopp.
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Inevitably given Daniel Levy’s underinvestment, Pochettino could not keep the wheels turning and Jose Mourinho was brought in. There was a decent amount of transfer activity: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is a clever signing, and Tanguy Ndombele has improved after some harsh treatment. But Mourinho is now a manager content to recycle the same ideas that used to serve him well, and his abrasive manner is now overwhelmingly counter-productive. He’s far from a poor coach, but he is not one who is suited to inspiring disparate parts to come together as he had at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and finally Real Madrid.
Instead, he is a man who uses his reputation to demand compliance. While his achievements should demand respect, modern football does not lack for other egos, either earned or otherwise. Gareth Bale, Dele Alli, Mourinho and others in the squad will be anticipating that others will follow their lead due to their past achievements. It does not work like that, and their current form means there is justification to ignore them.
In truth, only Kane has the mixture of past form, current ability and credible authority to look at his surroundings and reasonably demand more be given to him. He could ask that of everyone at Spurs. There is not one player who contributes as much as he does, who demonstrates as much professionalism and commitment to excellence, who wants to win as much. When he looks at Mourinho, he can't see a manager who is desperate to ask more of his own capabilities and potential, rather he probably sees a man who lives off the past to justify current inertia. When he negotiates with Levy there is a man who uses somebody else’s financial resources - specifically, Joe Lewis' - to maintain control, rather than to build a team that can dominate.
With the coronavirus still preventing fans from attending games, and ravaging the British economy, there is little chance that Levy will be keen to spend huge sums on improving the squad. Mourinho reportedly has no break clause in his contract so unless there is a huge implosion before now and the end of the season, he will be there to oversee pre-season, the summer transfer window, and the continued stagnation of tactics and playing staff.
Against Newcastle, Kane’s side put in a standard late-era Mourinho performance. The defence was disgracefully unable to deal with the basics, and their fitness faded alarmingly. They still had the nous and talent to win the game, but their heart appeared dented, or elsewhere. A brilliant player sat on the naughty step while the club’s forwards struggled to make the most of their talents. Only Kane really delivered. Maybe Alli could if handed a fair chance.
Erling Haaland looks certain to leave Borussia Dortmund, and that plays into Kane’s favour should he wish to leave. Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola artfully earns himself and his players the biggest wedge he can find, which suggests that Manchester City have an advantage over any clubs that theoretically earn their money instead. That means Real Madrid need a striker at a time when Kylian Mbappe would cost at least £150 million and appears content to sign up for longer at Paris Saint-Germain. Romelu Lukaku could move back to Chelsea, which would lead Inter Milan looking for a new striker, and Manchester United can't be ruled out. Should Mbappe actually leave, then a reunion with Pochettino is feasible. Strikers are going to be in demand, and at 27, Kane can't afford to wait for Spurs to catch up with him when they don’t have the chairman, manager or squad to do so.
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