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Pochettino defends Harry Kane in “Goal-gate” controversy

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Honestly, this is starting to get silly.

Stoke City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Roll on, Goal-gate. A day after a Premier League panel awarded Tottenham Hotspur’s second and winning goal against Stoke City to Harry Kane instead of Christian Eriksen, there are still people talking about it. It’s been the social media equivalent of kicking a hornet’s nest, with lines clearly demarcated between people who think it’s a f—g travesty and those who feel it’s much ado about nothing.

And now Mauricio Pochettino has been drawn into the debate, telling assembled journalists at a press conference ahead of Saturday’s match against Manchester City that this really isn’t a big deal at all.

“Honestly [Harry and I] didn’t talk. Of course after the game, Harry said ‘I touched the ball with my right shoulder’. He told Christian. Harry’s a very honest person, he’s not going to lie about this situation. But it’s not a big issue, not a big deal for the team...

“It’s not a big deal, I promise you. Harry is generous, a person who always puts the collective ahead of himself. Of course all strikers want to score and they have their skill - they are aggressive, they have this determination, like other strikers. But Harry always shows his commitment to the team, with his team-mates. I think it was just you can see after the goal you can see the clip when Harry says to Christian ‘I touched it with my right shoulder’, and after the game they were happy.

“Harry said ‘I think it was my goal’ and Christian said ‘ok no problem’. It was all stuff like this. But I promise, it’s not a big deal. No-one’s talked about that this week inside the club. Only I explained what happened and I hope that Harry and Christian can score on Saturday and everyone is happy.”

As Spurs fans, if we’re honest with ourselves this is just a tad cringe-worthy, but that mostly comes down to Kane’s public comments ahead of the appeal. Swearing on your daughter’s life is of course completely rhetorical and the pearl-clutching feels just as cringey as anything Kane actually said, but it is a bit of a bad look. I suspect if Harry had kept his mouth shut after the match the club had just quietly filed an appeal much of this hullaballoo could’ve been avoided.

In the end the only ones who are really upset that a panel of Premier League officials unanimously decided to award the goal to Kane are Liverpool fans who are already pathologically oversensitive about their declining place in the Premier League hierarchy the past 15 years. To them, Kane wanting to take credit for a goal he rightfully scored is a direct affront to their lord and savior Mo Salah. It reveals a deep-seated nervousness that Kane can overtake him in the race for the Golden Boot, and that Spurs can overtake them in the table by the end of the season for the eighth time in the past nine years.

There doesn’t seem to be much of an issue between Eriksen and Kane over the goal, so it’s kind of moot. And Pochettino rightly said that it really doesn’t matter who scored it — what mattered is that Tottenham Hotspur got three points at the bet365 last weekend and are 14 games unbeaten.

“I care about the goal because it provided us the three points but all that happens after is more players’ decisions or the club’s decision. I’m more than happy if Christian scores twice or Harry or Son or Dele Alli. I don’t care who scored the goal, I care about the three points. But that was a club decision to appeal. I wasn’t involved in this decision. Of course I think and I’m sure that Harry and Christian were agreed to do this, but no-one says to me what was going to happen. For me, it’s a deal between them and if the club believes it was right to appeal, there’s nothing to say for me.”