Tottenham striker Harry Kane reflects on a tough season for Spurs and admits the club has lost some of their values over the last few years; watch Liverpool vs Tottenham on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, from 4pm; kick-off 4.30pm
Harry Kane has admitted Tottenham have lost some of the values which made them so competitive under former head coach Mauricio Pochettino, in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports’ Pat Davison.
Tottenham have endured a turbulent month which has seen them lose head coach Antonio Conte, football director Fabio Paratici and acting head coach Cristian Stellini, who was let go after last Sunday’s harrowing 6-1 thrashing at Newcastle.
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Spurs, whose wait for a trophy will now go into a 16th year, failed to win any silverware under Pochettino but were among the top-performing teams in the Premier League under the Argentine – failing to finish in the top four in just one of his five seasons – and reached the club’s first Champions League final in 2019.
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Pundits disagree over Kane interview
Graeme Souness : “I find that so weak. I feel embarrassed for him in that comment and I’m a big fan of Harry Kane.”
Robbie Keane: “One thing you can’t ever do is question Harry Kane’s determination to do well. If there’s one player that’s stood up it’s Kane.”
Souness: “I played with leaders, I’ll tell you what leaders do, they dig you out. When it’s not going well they dig you out. Does Harry do that for Spurs or does Harry look after Harry?”
Jamie Redknapp: “He’ll be sick to the stomach with how things are going. He can’t just sit there and start slagging his mates off.”
Gary Neville: “I read his statement as a dig at Daniel Levy because I felt he was referring to the appointment of Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo and then Antonio Conte. I don’t think he was talking about the values on the pitch.”
Chairman Daniel Levy turned to serial winners Jose Mourinho and Conte to end Spurs’ trophyless run but now finds himself facing intense calls from fans to stand down with the top four now seemingly out of reach, the club in disarray and Pochettino expected to take over at rivals Chelsea in the summer.
Ahead of Sunday’s tough return to action at Liverpool – live on Sky Sports – Spurs’ record scorer Kane reflects on a tough season, explains what’s gone wrong at the club and looks at the next steps for recovery…
Is there a little pride restored after that draw with Man Utd?
I think so. After the Newcastle game and going 2-0 down at half time it could have been easy to fold in the second half of the Man Utd game. We did the opposite; we came out fighting with desire and passion and a hunger to turn things around. In football many things can happen but we showed that we are together and we’re a team.
I think Ryan Mason’s done really great in a short space of time to get us feeling that way and, yeah, it was good. Of course, a draw is never what you’re setting out to do, you’re setting out to win but when you look at the circumstances it was a good hard-earned point in the end.
Have you had a harder period in football?
I don’t know. There’s been a lot of ups and downs in my career but it was tough, you know. To be 5-0 down 20 minutes into a game is…
What are you thinking when that happens?
It’s one of the worst I’ve felt on a pitch in that moment. All you can do is keep fighting and trying to find a way to improve. I think leading up to the Man Utd game people can talk about a lot of things, like tactics, formations and how we’re going to play but ultimately it comes down to just having a bit of fight and character.
This season’s been a tough battle for a lot of teams, it hasn’t been easy, and we find ourselves in a position where it’s not the end of the world; we still have European football to fight for. You have to try and forget that as quick as possible. We know that game in general wasn’t good enough and a lot of games this season haven’t been quite good enough but we’ve had some good moments as well, so we’re trying to take positives from that.
Now we’re going to another game, away at Anfield, which will be really tough and one we have to be ready for.
As a leader, how did you try to lift others after that Newcastle defeat?
When something like that happens there’s not too much you can say. Everyone knows they let themselves down at that moment. Ultimately once something like that happens you just need to get back out there and put that stuff to bed.
We spoke among each other and had chats about how we could improve, and then Ryan being coach helped change the dynamic and the feel a little, but ultimately it was down to us players to go out on Thursday and show a bit of pride – and I think we have done that.
From now until the end of the season there’s not too much to say, we’re in a fight and we’re in a battle and we’re in the position that we’re in and we have to deal with that. If we can come away from this season with top four or some good European football then we can accept it and prepare for the next season.
What were the tone of those meetings with the chairman and the players like?
It was just to understand the situation and what can give us the best opportunity to finish the season in a strong way. As a club, there’s been some stuff going on that if we want to improve we have to be open and honest about.
Those conversations are probably more for toward the end of the season, as a leadership group, with the chairman and the coach. I feel like those conversations will happen toward the end about how we can improve. Ultimately, there was another conversation about how we can finish the season in a strong way.
It was just open and honest and we expressed how we felt and ultimately we are where we are now. We can’t talk too much and the only way we can show it is on the pitch and we have five games to do that.
How difficult a season has it been?
It’s been tough. Before every season you have targets as a team and you set out to achieve things, to win things and over the course of the season we’ve had some good moments. We’ve had some great results but we just haven’t found that consistency that you need to be at the highest level.
It’s been difficult for many reasons, there’s been many changes and as a player you try and adapt and you try and cope with those situations but it’s not been easy. If we can finish this season in a strong manner and with a bit of positivity it goes along way into July and pre-season where we can go from there.
How do you think the club improves? You sound like you have a few ideas…
They are conversations that need to be had toward the end of the season. I feel like we lost a bit of what the values are at this club over the last few years. It’s about finding a way to get back on the same page again and obviously even with the fans as well.
The fans were great on Thursday, getting behind us and being with us and Ryan and having that relationship. I’m not going to express it all here but there are conversations that we’re open to having because ultimately we all want to improve and get better. That goes from the top right through the club and that’s our aim.
You’re a Spurs boy. What do you mean by Spurs values?
When you’ve been here this long, I’ve been here since I was 11 years old, you understand what the fans are like, you understand what the club’s like. You’ve been through good moments with the club, I’ve been through not so good moments.
Values are…everyone wants to win and everyone wants to lift trophies and that’s ultimately our aim every year. But we’re in a different situation to some of the clubs around us and we have to accept that but still find a way to improve and get better.
We probably haven’t been doing that in recent years so ultimately it’s about getting back to competing right at the very top and our squad has got enough talent to do that.
Ultimately, there’s some things that may need to change I think everyone is doing everything they can to try and achieve that. But when you look at the competition in the Premier League now, the fine line between being one of the top clubs and 10th or 11th is very slim and you have to make sure you’re on it in every department.
Are you talking about almost getting back to the Pochettino era? Do you find yourself thinking, what did we have then that we’ve lost over the last few years?
Yeah I think whenever you have a good moment as a team, I think we had three or four really good years when we were competing at the very top and that was without spending loads of money.
We had a really good mixture of young and experienced players. It’s impossible in football to click your fingers and go back to the good times and say ‘let’s go back to what it was’, because every season and every situation is different. But I feel like there were some values at that time and some culture that really made us achieve the things we did.
So maybe we’ve lost parts of that over the last few years and it’s about looking back at that and seeing the good things we can take from that and trying to implement that in the future.
Are there some mixed emotions for you? Because in terms of personal milestones you’ve had an unbelievable year, you’ve achieved some childhood dreams, but in terms of the team those trophies maybe seem as far away as ever. Or actually in football are you never as far away as it seems…
That’s true. You’ve seen over the years teams can finish fifth or sixth in one year or even lower and then next year they’re competing at the top of the league. In football things can be taken out of context and maybe a bit dramatised in moments.
You’re never as far away as you might think but you still need to find a way to change those things and get back to the top. There’s a lot to improve on if we really want to be competing at the highest level, especially with the teams around us strengthening and being as good as they are.
Tottenham’s remaining fixtures
April 30: Liverpool (A) – Premier League, kick-off 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports
May 6: Crystal Palace (H) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 13: Aston Villa (A) – Premier League, kick-off 3pm
May 20: Brentford (H) – Premier League, kick-off 12.30pm
May 28: Leeds (A) – Premier League, kick off 4.30pm