This Sunday, Spurs host Arsenal and as much as this is usually a big game, this weekend’s match seems just a bit bigger. Arsenal, for their part, need to regain some momentum to their title push after a soulless draw against Newcastle, which saw Eddie Howe’s 8-backs tactic earn them the honor of being just the second team to get a clean sheet against Arsenal this season. The other team to do that was PSV Eindhoven, who deployed a similar tactic*.
Spurs, meanwhile, have been struggling with widespread criticism, winning just two of their last 5 matches while playing “ketchup” football – allowing the opposition to take leads or simply not showing up for the first half of games. Spurs manager Antonio Conte dragged his players under the bus after their loss to Villa and got a response in the next match, a 4-0 win over Crystal Palace, which saw Spurs score all four goals in the 2nd half.
And with that as the foreground, there’s also the small matter of Jimmy Greaves’ all-time Spurs scoring record – which Kane will match or surpass with his next goal (I can’t really be all that bothered with their weird records). Kane is by all accounts acutely aware of his personal records and will be gagging to score against Arsenal on Sunday. After all, breaking Jimmy Greaves’ record would be as close to winning a trophy as he’s likely to get any time soon. I’m sure that the Spurs media center has a DVD ready to go “All of Kane’s record breaking goals for Spurs”. Three hours of penalties and 30 minutes of goals from open play.
I joke but Spurs have had some incredible players down the years. Gareth Bale just announced his retirement from football, having won three La Liga titles, five Champions League trophies, and a handful of other cups while at Real Madrid. His former teammate Luca Modric has the same record. Michael Carrick moved from Spurs to Man U and won the League five times and a Champions League and Europa League (and is one of only two players in English history to win all the domestic titles plus a CL, EL, and the European Super Cup) to go with all those domestic accolades. Even Dimitar Berbatov, one of the few players in modern history to collect a trophy while at Spurs, only won the major honors after he left Spurs, winning the Premier League twice at Man U. And the great Jimmy Greaves, who was so good that he was able to lift Spurs to several trophies, played a big part in England’s 1966 World Cup winning year. The point here, though, is that while Spurs have had some incredible players down the years, with just a few exceptions (Jimmy Greaves), players have to leave Spurs in order to win things.
That’s just the reality of the sport we all love these days. So much wealth (and talent) is concentrated in the hands of the few that even a generational player like Harry Kane can’t single-handedly lift his team to a trophy. Kane plays with guys like Hojbjerg and Doherty; good players and all but a far cry from Casemiro, Modric, Kyle Walker (another former Spurs player who has gone on to have a glittering career), Rodri, Tchouaméni, and so on. These clubs like Man City, Real Madrid, PSG, Man U, and others are able to pack their squads with dozens of the best players in the world. That doesn’t mean they always win every trophy, but the odds are stacked in their favor. If Kane wants to win something, he needs to move to one of the big clubs, that’s just how it works these days.
But it’s a Catch-22. He needs to leave to win things and Spurs cannot afford to let him leave. They are a well below mid-table team without him. They certainly couldn’t attract a coach with as high a profile name as Antonio Conte and would almost just as certainly be bringing in the next Roberto Soldado to replace Kane if/when he leaves. Kane leaving Spurs would destroy that club for years. Everyone knows it, it’s why Levy refused to let him go to City in 2021.
I think for Kane’s part – and as an Arsenal supporter I do not under any circumstances “gotta hand it to Kane” – he’s probably done the best he could do at Spurs. When he breaks Greaves’ record he’ll be able look back and say he gave his best to the club and the supporters. And I think if he wants to win a trophy he will need to down tools and force a move. Then he can go on and win some trophies with a big club like Bayern Munich or the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund Upon Tyne.
*Nothing wrong with them playing this way.