Carabao Cup final defeat could push Harry Kane toward decision over Tottenham departure
After a decision about whether to play, Harry Kane now faces an even bigger decision over where to play next.
The harsh reality for Spurs is that this latest final defeat won’t make Kane’s conversations with Daniel Levy any easier, after earlier this season telling the club chairman he is considering his future. An irony is that Kane’s performance this time didn’t really add much to the team. As with the 2019 Champions League final, there might even be a debate over whether they would have been better served with the striker coming off the bench.
His fitness was only confirmed in the 24 hours before the game, but he never looked his best.
In that, Kane is becoming a bit like Wayne Rooney with World Cups. He is unlucky to find himself either injured or recovering when they come around.
It is why his ineffective performance, as much as the defeat, could actually strengthen the argument for leaving.
A player of his talent might well feel he should be at a team where finals come around much more regularly. Like, well, Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side – who here won their fourth successive League Cup to make it seven major trophies for the Catalan during his five years at the club so far – are Kane’s top choice if he leaves, along with Manchester United.
Many might look at the decision to play Kane, or a few others made by stand-in coach Ryan Mason, but the truth is they wouldn’t have mattered too much. City are just several levels above Spurs.
Such realities added some light relief to the Super League crisis, given that so many feel it’s a bit rich of Tottenham to be thinking their above much of the modern game. The truth is of course that the club lucked out in being asked. There is a feeling the Super League mainly wanted Levy as an executive rather than Spurs as a club.
Some supporters may balk at that, as Tottenham’s trophy drought goes on.
What can’t be denied is that, through calculation and bloody-mindedness, he has guided the club to the point where they are on the brink of the elite. That is an achievement in itself, but hasn’t yet involved the achievement – or just the win – that would really transform the club and perceptions of the club.
Levy now has a hard decision of his own.
Everyone says he just will not countenance the sale of Kane, that is a non-starter, especially with three years left on his contract.
Can he afford to be so obstructive about it when Spurs have suffered such a loss of income, and that just a year after the stadium was opened?
There are big financial holes to fill, as well as roles to fill.
That is just another new problem for Levy, as Spurs were supposed to be moving into a new era.
The choice of manager could well be influential in Kane’s future.
Nagelsmann has been the dream, and the number-one target. He would instantly solve so many problems, in that he’d immediately give the club an energy, but also an ideology.
It’s difficult to think of someone as close to perfect.
That’s why it’s too good to be true.
While Nagelsmann had previously indicated a willingness to join Spurs, it was seen by those in Germany as a tactic to flush out interest elsewhere. He was always going to have bigger jobs available to him, and the job he wants most is now available. Nagelsmann wants Bayern Munich.
That is likely to leave Levy needing a solution.
Marking yet another abrupt turn in approach, he wants a “project manager” akin to Mauricio Pochettino, after the short-termism of Mourinho.
There are still big differences within the choices, though.
Scott Parker, for example, has nothing like the same ideology as Brendan Rodgers, Graham Potter or Roberto Martinez.
If a well-run club has a vision in place, it begs the question how you can go from one to the other, before you even get to questions over how you can from Pochettino’s approach to Mourinho’s – or indeed the capabilities of the candidates.
Rodgers would now be the preferred option, but there are complications. The relationship isn’t brilliant from Spurs’ approaches in the past, and sources say he is now greatly enjoying Leicester City as he has near-total control at the club. Spurs may not represent the jump required to extract him.
Levy has a big decision of his own. It is only one he has rarely got right, as the Mourinho appointment shows.
In fact, it could even be argued the majority of his managerial hires have been poor, with Pochettino the grand exception alongside Martin Jol and Harry Redknapp.
Kane will be watching all this carefully.