clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Harry Kane is ALL IN on Antonio Conte

In his first mixed zone interview in a year, the Spurs striker has gotten his drive back.

Tottenham Hotspur v Vitesse: Group A - UEFA Europa Conference League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Put yourself in Harry Kane’s shoes for a minute. I know, I know — I’m still a little irritated at him too after everything he put us as fans through from last spring until now, and the water is definitely not all the way under the bridge as far as I’m concerned. But just for a second, let’s be empathetic and look at things from his perspective as a world-class (albeit aging) superstar footballer whose club made it to a Champions League final and then fell off a cliff, meandering to worse and worse league finishes under successive underperforming managers.

Is it any wonder why he appears to already be smitten with Antonio Conte?

After Tottenham Hotspur’s pants-on-head crazy 3-2 Europa Conference League win over Vitesse Arnheim in which Kane played the full 90 minutes and scored-not-scored an own goal, Kane gave a mixed zone interview for the first time in over a YEAR. That right there tells you something about where his head is now compared to where it was. In that interview, he waxed eloquently about new his new gaffer, with comments that implied a sudden new energy and motivation.

“It shows great ambition to be honest. His resume speaks for itself. Everyone knows how highly thought of he is and what he has done as a manager in the game. You have to respect that.

“He will work as hard as he can to improve us as players but it is about us taking it in, learning, doing more on the pitch, doing more in training, doing more away from training. And making sure we give ourselves every opportunity to win. We have a manager and a club that believe in us and this appointment definitely shows that.

“He is a fantastic manager. We haven’t reached the standards we have wanted to over the last couple of years, but we hope that this manager can help us turn it around. But it’s about us and how we take it in – because he has done it, he has nothing to prove. He has done it on the biggest stage with the biggest teams, so he will give us everything he has to improve us and now it’s down to us as players to have no excuses.

“We have to make sure every minute of our lives we are trying to improve and win for this team and that is the only way we are going to move forward.”

Kane has wanted to work under a world-class manager ever since Mauricio Pochettino left, and after the Jose Mourinho experiment failed if he wasn’t going to do it at Tottenham, by God he’d do it at Manchester City. As disastrous to his personal image and relationship to Spurs fans as it was to publicly (and ham-fistedly) try and force a transfer to CIty, there’s a part of me that understands why he did it.

So to extrapolate, we can also can understand why he’s so excited about working under Conte, considered truly one of the best managers working today. His comments illustrated an almost giddy excitement and evidence of a sudden personal motivation, even with the understanding that Spurs have a lot of work to do.

The cynic (and yes, I am also one of those) would say that Kane’s sudden and public shift is also evidence that he’s more concerned with personal accolades than with Tottenham Hotspur. After all, when the going got tough, Kane suddenly seemed to discover that the grass is greener in the blue half of Manchester. His performances in the first part of the season under Nuno can’t entirely be attributed to tactics, as Kane didn’t look like he wanted to be out there AT ALL. If now, under Conte, his performances flip like a switch, it’s hard not to also think that this too has as much to do with Harry Kane as it does with Antonio Conte. And that doesn’t really reflect very well on him either.

But let’s be honest: most Spurs fans don’t really care. The most important thing for them is that Kane is happy, playing well, scoring goals for Tottenham Hotspur, and helping them charge back up the Premier League table. Kane isn’t the first player to get sulky under a manager and system that isn’t right for him, nor the first to demand a transfer to a new situation that he feels he deserves. And if he isn’t really critically thinking through his mindset other than “score goals win games,” well, that’s understandable too. There’s nothing wrong with feeling this way as a player or as a fan.

I get that. I agree with it too at least in part, and there isn’t anything Harry has done that can’t at least have the rough edges smoothed down by him scoring a bucketful of goals. It’s an exciting time to be a Tottenham fan — full of new possibilities and hope. I can’t blame Kane for being sucked along for the ride with the rest of us.