Tottenham’s final home game of the 2016/17 season was a truly memorable one.
It was the final fixture at their old White Hart Lane home and legends of the club were in attendance as Spurs faced Manchester United.
They won that game 2-1 thanks to goals from Victor Wanyama and Harry Kane, and the players were joyously mobbed upon the full-time whistle as fans flocked onto the pitch before the final farewell ceremony got underway.
In that moment it seemed impossible for any player in that squad to ever face the wrath and resentment of the fans in the future. But exactly that has happened over the past few months, due to some pretty shambolic PR efforts from one star striker and his agent.
Kane’s ‘will he stay or will he go?’ transfer story has been rumbling on for the whole summer and, with just under two weeks to go until the window’s deadline, shows no sign of stopping. In truth, most of us would like it to end. Not because we can’t take the stress or tension of seeing the club’s talisman leave, but because it’s downright boring.
The constant re-reporting of the tiniest details reframed as big developments has become incredibly tedious. Not one day passes without Manchester City, Kane’s desired club, apparently ‘readying a bid’, ‘preparing their next move’ or ‘believing a deal will eventually be done’.
The window may well end with Kane getting his wish and Tottenham getting a fat paycheque, but that doesn’t distract from the public relations shambles his entourage have managed to get the England captain in.
Kane and his brother could have played this whole situation a whole lot better.
At the backend of last season, there were protests at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The scenes at the end of the 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa in their final home game of the campaign were ugly. Fans had never felt so detached from the club, and there would have been little backlash from supporters had Kane been open and released some sort of statement revealing his desire to leave. Questioning the ambition of chairman Daniel Levy and the club at that point would have been met with a ‘well…yeah, you’re right, fair enough’ response from fans who had sat through an embarrassing Jose Mourinho spell and seen their team finish seventh and lose a cup final, but also witnessed Kane deliver his best individual season yet.
It’s an open goal no player itching for a move should ever miss, and yet the ball seems to have bobbled up in front of Kane, resulting in him ballooning it out of the stadium and looking back at the turf that is usually so sturdy when he’s about to pull the trigger.
Alas, they went down a different route, but now there are contradictions all over the place.
Kane didn’t return to training on time and Spurs were said to be furious with the situation, to the point where they prepared a fine for their striker. The 28-year-old then released a statement of his own, claiming he hadn’t refused to train and would return at a previously arranged date. He added he ‘wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise the relationship I have with the fans’. The fact that there appears to have been a breakdown in communication there shows there hasn’t been enough clarity given from one side to the other.
One problem is that he chatted with Gary Neville a few months beforehand and appeared to name his price for a potential exit. Relationship with supporters jeopardised, well and truly.
Now, one story has appeared in the Telegraph reiterating Kane’s desire to leave north London and again recalling this ‘gentleman’s agreement’ he is said to have with Levy.
That’s all well and good, except most Spurs fans have seen said article for what it is: more attempted PR spin from the Kane camp. And if that’s the game they want to play, then so be it! It’s Kane’s career and he has every right to play it in whatever way he sees fit. It may be the biggest opportunity he has to leave Tottenham and start wracking up the trophies he desires for his cabinet.
But he ought to know the type of personality he’s dealing with in Levy. This is a chairman who held out to get maximum value from players like Dimitar Berbatov, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale, so why would it be any different with Kane, arguably the club’s greatest ever player?
Tottenham seem to have been made to look like the bad guys, with onlookers often quipping that Kane should be sold ‘for the good of his career’.
But he’s halfway through a six-year contract with no release clause, and Levy is evidently in no mood to strengthen a rival club that has so much money it could afford to buy Kane ten times over at a £150m asking price. Their squad for the defeat at Tottenham was worth around £900m. The investment that has been made at City is clear to see, and with Jack Grealish signing for £100m, Levy has no reason to accept anything less than his own asking price.
It really is a baffling situation, and one that has been handled poorly from Kane’s team. The leaked story to the Sun a few weeks back didn’t wash well with Spurs fans, and this latest dig at the club’s top officials – even if they’re not particularly well liked right now – won’t either.
Kane may well get his summer move in the end, but if he does, he won’t be seen as some shining light or golden boy of an England squad which charmed so many during their Euro 2020 run. He’ll become another toy for Pep Guardiola and City to play around with until they get bored and decide they want Erling Haaland.
However you view the situation, one side clearly is in the front seat, and it’s not Kane and his brother.