Yesterday, Gary Neville’s YouTube channel posted excerpts from an interview with Harry Kane held on a golf course where he talked candidly about his future, which almost certainly now resides away from Tottenham Hotspur. Those excerpts were interesting and had already split opinion — depending on your point of view they could be construed as either reasonable honesty from a player who has given 16 years to his boyhood club, or as a disingenuous abdication of his own responsibility as it relates to his obvious talent level and responsibility to his teammates.
But that wasn’t the full video. And unfortunately, more quotes have emerged today that, for me, puts Harry in a much less positive light. Here’s Kane on the timing of sacking Jose Mourinho:
“I was surprised at the timing of it. It was the decision of the club, Daniel would’ve had his reasons for doing it but I was surprised, obviously.
“Jose’s a winner, we know Jose’s record in finals and things like that. We found out maybe five minutes before everyone else did. Whether it was something they thought about for a while or it was just an in-the-moment decision, I’m not too sure.
“Look, I understand chairmen have to make tough decisions in tough times, so I’ll never knock someone for doing anything because I’m not in their positions and I don’t know all the ins and outs. But yeah, sure, I was surprised.”
Kane went on to clarify what he thought was the reason why things went so wrong this season under Mourinho, and put it down to a lack of “leadership.”
“It was pretty much completely different if I’m honest. Just in the style of play, the way they set up, tactical training we would do. Obviously Mauricio we did a lot of gym work, it was a lot gym base whereas Jose wasn’t so much into that but Jose obviously expected us to be men and act like men on the pitch, have leaders on the pitch,” he said.
“To be honest, that’s probably where it didn’t quite work out with Jose we didn’t quite have enough leadership that we needed at the time. Obviously the club was in a difficult stage, with Mauricio getting sacked it’s never easy a new manager coming in.
“I think with Jose I had a great relationship with him, we got on from minute one. I think we understood each other, we had a similar mentality and how we saw stuff on the pitch, off the pitch and mentality in training so we kind of built that relationship.
“Again it’s a shame we couldn’t go on to win things but I’ve been lucky enough to work with Mauricio and Jose, they’re two incredible managers that’s only helped me in my career for sure.”
I’ll be honest and say that for me personally, the above quotes were actually enraging. We know that Kane was the biggest backer of Mourinho on the team, and one of the few who was in Jose’s corner until the very end, even as things were careening off the rails. It was clear to everyone by the end that it wasn’t working under Jose — the tactics didn’t fit the squad, the team was collapsing, and there were major rifts within the dressing room.
And somehow this is due to a lack of leadership? It sure seems like the one thing Harry Kane learned from Jose Mourinho is how to throw teammates under the bus.
also how many leaders does a team need? pic.twitter.com/o2bVAmGn3w— berbatov cocktail (@ComradeYouSpurs) May 21, 2021
To be clear, I’m not angry with Kane for wanting to leave Tottenham Hotspur. He’s one of the top five players in world football at the moment. Quite frankly it’s a little surprising that a club of Tottenham’s stature, in the tier just below the top clubs in the Premier League, have been able to hold on to him as long as they have. He’s an amazing player, the England captain, and 100% underpaid for someone of his ability and stature in the footballing world. He’s not the first top player to want to engineer a move to a different club, and not even the first top Tottenham player to do so.
I’m also sympathetic to the idea that there’s no really good way to force a move from a club where you’ve been a folk hero and which doesn’t want to sell you. The options are to either go to “the jerk mattress” as we call it here and burn some bridges, or quietly refuse to sign a contract and hope the club will sell you or let you leave on a Bosman. Both will foster anger and disappointment with fans, and it’s basically a no-win situation.
Instead, my anger comes from his abdication of responsibility. These quotes, combined with the ones released yesterday, are some serious Tom Brady-brain “RINGZZ” stuff — winning is everything, and if you’re not winning it’s obviously because your leaders aren’t leadering enough therefore there’s not actually enough leaders. It’s the same sort of nonsense coach-speak like a “winning mentality” — not winning means that you don’t have that mentality, whereby the only way you can get it is by... winning. Kane using these platitudes about “leadership” and “being men” to justify forcing a move feels just incredibly vacuous and almost toxic.
Never mind that Kane has without a doubt been one of the most influential people in the Tottenham dressing room the past five seasons or so, which has included dictating when he’s healthy and ready to return after major injuries, but somehow when things have gone wrong it’s everyone else’s fault and not his. He’s agitating for a sale knowing that it’s not up to him because he thinks the club hasn’t had enough ambition, when it’s been pretty clear he’s been a huge influence in how the club has been run the past few seasons. It’s infuriating, and tone-deaf, and it feels like half the fanbase is giving him a pass on it because he’s “one of our own.”
Then there’s the timing of the leaks. The initial leak by Kane’s agent-brother Charlie came out a few days before the abbreviated Gary Neville video, which was apparently recorded a couple of weeks ago, with those coming a couple of days before the full video. It’s certainly interesting that Kane decided that the perfect time to start throwing his weight around and publicly agitating for a transfer with three years left on his contract was just before the end of the season when Spurs were trying to qualify for Europe. It comes across as a complete inability to read a room, timed for maximum disruption at a time when Spurs needed unity and clarity of purpose.
I love Harry Kane. He’s been a huge reason why Spurs have been as good as they have been, and it’s been amazing watching a former academy player that we thought could eventually become “the next Steven Fletcher” become one of the best players in world football. He’s given me moments of joy that I will never forget and will always be grateful for.
Even so, I’m incredibly angry at Harry for putting himself and his ambition over that of the team at this point in time. The past two years have been horrible for Spurs fans — the collapse under Pochettino leading to the disastrous Mourinho tenure, compounded by a global pandemic and the Super League nonsense. Harry publicly agitating for the move while trying to maintain that he still loves the club just feels like another humiliation on top of everything else we’ve had to experience.
I’ll probably get over this anger with time, and I don’t want to stay angry with someone who has given me so much joy. Right now, however, this feels like a major heel turn, and I don’t think it’s one that Kane, or the club, can turn back from.