Wednesday 14 November 2018

Harry Kane hurt by social media backlash to goal appeal, says Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane
Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane

Sam Wallace

Mauricio Pochettino has conceded that Harry Kane has been hurt by the reaction to his determination to claim his team’s second goal in Saturday’s win over Stoke City which the club took to appeal with the Premier League in order for it to be awarded to their leading goalscorer.

The Tottenham Hotspur manager also laughed at a suggestion made by the golden boot winner of 30 years ago, John Aldridge, that the episode would give greater motivation to Mohammad Salah to outscore Kane – who has finished top for the previous two seasons.

The Spurs manager said that he had not known that his club were appealing to have the goal credited to Kane but that there was no tension between the Englishman and Christian Eriksen, who was originally given it.

On Kane, Pochettino said: “Of course he never thought that this situation was going to go on to such big things when he was so, so, so, so certain that he touched the ball. It’s normal that he was a little bit disappointed [with the reaction] because of course Harry Kane and all of our players have Twitter, Instagram. Tottenham fans will back Harry Kane but other fans will kill him. People have opinions but that is normal.

“He is disappointed because he never wanted to create this. For you, sometimes, it is a small or simple thing and they become bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and you cannot stop it. That was what happened. He is going to learn a lot from this.”

In response to being told about a tweet from Aldridge in which he said Spurs’ appeal on Kane’s behalf would give Salah and his team-mates greater motivation to win the golden boot, Pochettino was incredulous. “I don’t believe it! I don’t believe Salah needs this situation to be inspired. Come on, you make me laugh.”

It would appear that the England striker has been stung by some of the criticism and mockery of his determination to demonstrate that he got a touch on the Eriksen’s shot, despite the vindication of the Premier League. He is in second place in the goalscorers’ table with 25 goals, four behind Salah, with Spurs facing Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday evening.

Pochettino said there was nothing untoward about Kane’s determination to get credit for the goal. “I was a player, a professional player, not as good as him, but I know that when you touch the ball, and you are right, it’s normal to say, ‘I scored the goal’. Then I don’t care about the cameras. Harry is a very honest person and is not going to lie about that. We create a massive issue when it is not an issue.”

Pochettino’s side will face City without Danny Rose who now has a calf injury. The midfielder Harry Winks is now receiving treatment on an ankle injury in Qatar that Pochettino admitted was a concern. The Spurs manager saw his side well-beaten in the corresponding fixture with City in December when they lost 4-1 at the Etihad, scoring their single goal late in the game.

He said that the Champions League ties this week, especially those involving Barcelona and Real Madrid had shown that football “can always surprise us”.

“We are going to play against the best team in England. They [City] deserve to be at the top. They have been the most consistent team with fantastic players, fantastic coaching staff and a fantastic manager. They deserve a lot of praise. It’s only an accident in a different competition.

“We can talk about the games they lost twice against Liverpool in the Champions League and against Manchester United but when you assess the game they were always alive. It was small details that meant they lost. It’s a massive challenge. The Premier League is nearly over but for me we can say that Manchester City was the most consistent team.” 

Pochettino said he believed that the club’s former full-back Kyle Walker, now at City, would get a good reception from Spurs fans, saying that he deserved to do so for his service to the club. “The fans feel disappointed that he decided to move but in the end it is human nature that sometimes you need a new challenge, new experience, motivation.”

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