There have been a LOT of takes swirling around the Tottenham Hotspur social media sphere since Harry Kane’s transfer to Bayern Munich became official. But perhaps the most bizarre one was the idea that the club has left manager Ange Postecoglou “hung out to dry” just days before the start of the Premier League season.
Tottenham kick off the 2023-24 campaign away at Brentford on Sunday, and now will do so without their club talisman and one of the best players in their history. Obviously and naturally, Kane dominated the conversation in Postecoglou’s pre-match press conference, but to hear Big Ange put it, his move to Germany was hardly a surprise.
“Yeah, look fair to say I don’t have a blow by blow account of the whole thing but my understanding is it has progressed to the point where it looks like it will happen. That’s all the information I have at the moment. From that perspective at least it gives us some clarity unless anything unforeseen happens and we move forward without Harry....
“Oh I don’t think there is a like-for-like replacement for Harry mate but yeah in terms of a striker again we’ve been planning for this, fair to say, for a while. It doesn’t take too much investigative work to realise that this was going to happen so we’ve been sorting of planning for it to happen anyway so a lot of our business up to now is with that in mind. This doesn’t change things dramatically from my perspective anyway in terms of what we’re trying to build.
“There is still movement in the squad, absolutely. We’ve still got a fairly big squad and we need to move out some players. I think some players will seek an opportunity elsewhere and there is still three or so weeks to go in the transfer window so I think there will still be movement but not because Harry has gone, that’s always been in the plan.”
Postecoglou has been hinting that he’s been aware of Kane’s desire to leave the club in previous press conferences, and now that it’s official Ange was able to say more about what took place in that infamous first meeting between himself and Kane after he returned for preseason training. To hear Ange say it today (and contrary to how he depicted the meeting at the time), the cards were all out on the table from the first conversation.
“If you’re involved in the football business as long as I have [you know] clubs aren’t talking to each other unless the player knows about it. We weren’t negotiating with Wolfsburg for Micky van de Ven and then trying to figure out if he wants to come to us. All those kind of things are decided. I had a conversation with Harry the first day arrived and he was up front and honest, and I was the same. You kind of get an indication there that he kind of made up his mind that if the clubs agreed he would go, particularly if it was before the first game. That was my preference as well.
“There’s nothing along the way that’s sort of made me feel there’s anything other than this outcome. None of these things happen in isolation, everyone is pretty clued into to what’s going on, so my perspective I hadn’t received anything from Harry, the club or anyone else to suggest to me anything had changed about his stance.”
Fans are hurting right now over the loss of Kane, and Ange didn’t try to minimize those feelings, even as he tried to express that Harry does not represent the whole of the club and what it can do. He talked about the fans’ disappointment over the Kane transfer when asked.
“I’m not going to tell them how to feel. They need to go through that process themselves and I guess for me and the players what’s really important now is that when they see their team play that fills them with hope and potential that we can build something they’re going to be proud of.
“So I’m just really reticent to tell people how they should feel. If they’re not feeling great about things then that’s their right. There’s probably a reason for that and a good reason for that. What I want to do is hopefully give them something tangible on the field that excites them and if we do that then they’ll find their own way to get to the point where we’re all united and feeling good about the prospects of the football club.”
Postecoglou went on to say that there’s no “shopping list” of potential Kane replacements, as there’s no single player that can bring to the table everything that Harry does. That said, the signing of James Maddison was definitely made with Kane’s potential absence in mind, and Spurs’ entire summer should be viewed retroactively as an attempt to retool the squad in Kane’s absence.
“I don’t think it works that way. It is not my wife handing me a shopping list to go and get milk and bread for the kids. Our whole strategy has been around the fact Harry wasn’t going to be around more than likely so it is not like we’ve had a pow wow this morning and jeez what do we do. We knew it was coming and we’ve been working towards that. From my perspective we’re preparing for Brentford and there won’t be anyone incomings between now and Sunday so that’s where my focus is.
“[Maddison] was one of the first pieces of business we did. He was available and I was really excited to bring him into the group, knowing what we needed to build here. And again, knowing if Harry was going to leave that’s a fair few goals walking out of the door and knowing you can’t just replace that with one player. An area of the club that needing bolstering was midfield threat in terms of goals, and that’s what Madders provides - goals and assists. If we’ve going to cover the fact that Harry’s gone and all the goals are leaving with him, we’re going to have to spread that out and Madders provides that. He’s been brilliant since he’s come in, he’s been outstanding. Not just in the games but in training and the way he’s embraced the club and developed in the football we want to play.”
But the most immediate concern is — who’s starting for Spurs this Sunday? There were rumors floating around that Richarlison, Kane’s ostensible “backup,” was injured after missing the Shakhtar friendly last week. Big Ange put that to rest, saying Richy was fit to start against Brentford.
“Yeah, [Richy] is fit. There’s no issues with him. He didn’t feature against Shakhtar but to be honest he was never really going to. I was going to play two different XIs. He picked up a slight knock in training and he got through the Barca game really well.
Richy is a fantastic player and I said before he’s got some really strong attributes that fit in well with the way my team is set up. He’s a hard worker for the team and apart from doing the stuff he needs to in front of goal there are other aspects of his game.
He’s represented his country at a World Cup which is not an insignificant thing and sometimes when things like this happen, opportunity exists and it’s up to somebody to step through that door. That’s Richy or anyone else. That’s all you can ask for in football, just to have that opportunity.
I wouldn’t be expecting one player, and it’s not the way we’ll be set up, to cover the absence of Harry. It’s about the collective and how we can become a really strong offensive force with the players we have. We have some really fantastic attacking players and Richy is one of them.”
The other bit of unfinished business is the Tottenham captaincy — with Kane’s departure and club captain Hugo Lloris set to leave the club this summer, there’s a leadership vacuum. Postecoglou was asked about whether he’s selected a captain, and he answered in the most Big Ange way possible.
“Yeah I have [decided] mate. I’m not telling you. (Laughs)
“We’ll go through that process tomorrow. Knowing that Harry wasn’t going to be here, it was something I had on my radar. I’m not a massive one for having an outstanding captain,. Leadership is very transferrable through the group. Your youngest player can show leadership skills. It’s about creating a culture and environment that’s driven by the players.
“The people you have, have to drive that, and that’s been part of my brief here. I’ve observed the players and how they interact, and the environment they’ve set for themselves and which players seem to take the lead in that. I’ll go through the formalities of that probably tomorrow.”
Tottenham’s new Post-Kane era begins this Sunday at Brentford. Kickoff time is 9:00 a.m. ET / 2:00 p.m. UK.