First up is this issue of Kane wanting to win trophies, and deciding that this is a thing best achieved in places other than N17. Galling to hear of course, vaguely akin to being overlooked for a plum role in the workplace, or jilted by a would-be paramour; but one stiffens the upper lip and accepts rough with smooth.
What should not be overlooked, however, is that Kane himself is complicit in this failure to win trophies. Nobody would dispute that Kane fights the good fight better than most, but this business of wanting to cheese off elsewhere to win shiny pots makes it sound like he’s fulfilled his part of the bargain and Spurs did not fulfil theirs. The truth, I would suggest, is rather more sinister.
When our lot reached various Finals and Semi-Finals, and challenged for the League, Kane had as much responsibility as anyone else to complete the job. And yet forensic analysis – or even a passing glance – is sufficient to confirm that while definitely physically present on these occasions, the fellow’s contributions at such crucial junctures tended barely to register. A forlorn shrug here, an attempted halfway line header there; but hardly match-winning stuff.
No doubt at this point in a court of law, a whole bevvy of lawyers would leap to their feet and yelp about ankle injuries and match fitness and whatnot, and these would be compelling points, applying to at least two of the aforementioned shindigs. Yet the overall gist remains, that Kane himself bears much of the responsibility for Spurs’ failure to win these trophies of which he speaks with such longing.
None of which matters a jot of course. The identity of those responsible for our failure to win a dashed thing is neither here nor there if Kane decides to jump in his car and speed up the motorway. But AANP is a man of honour, and will not stand by idly while the good name of Tottenham Hotspur is besmirched. The insinuation that trophies cannot be won at Spurs meets with a pretty frosty reception at AANP Towers. Kane had the platform at Spurs; and Kane was part of the team that repeatedly fell short.
2. The Six-Year Contract
Next up is this business of the contract – a six-year package, so my spies tell me, with t’s crossed and i’s dotted back in 2018. All of which means, according to the mathematic bods who chew these sorts of figures for fun, that Kane is still legally bound to flex his sinews aboard the good ship Hotspur for another three years.
And moreover, while I’m not one to conjecture wildly, I’m prepared to stick my neck out and suggest that back in 2018 when the thing was thrashed out it was not done in the presence of several of those big burly sorts, dressed all in black, threatening expressions across their maps and guns trained on Kane’s forehead. In short, Kane’s decision to sign away six years of his life was done in a spirit of perfect liberty and autonomy.
If it did not occur to him that at some point in the coming six years at Spurs the horizon might cloud over and life’s journey turn into something of a struggle, one can at best sympathise with him for being subject to the vagaries of football – and at worse chastise him for being pretty dim in not contemplating the contingency. Dare I suggest that someone amongst his gang of advisors (who hardly seem shy of dishing out advice) ought to have mentioned to him before he scrawled his name, “For better and for worse, old bean”.
Now opinions differ on whether contracts these days count for much in the glitzy world of top-level football. Briefly summarising these opinions, some say “Nay”, and others say “Yay”, and that’s about the whole of it.
Personally, I’m not much one for the legal game. However, whether or not Kane is obliged to stay – legally, morally or otherwise – what just about everyone can agree on is that he’s not played a particularly smart card by sharpening his elbows for a move when three years remain to tick away on the paperwork.
Footballers in general are admittedly not renowned for their intellectual prowess, but for Kane to fail to realise the mechanics of this one is a tad bizarre. With three years on the contract, he should surely have clocked that if the club wished to dig in its heels then they would hold most of the aces going? And moreover, after spending just about his whole life at Spurs, how the dickens did he miss that there are few things Grandmaster Levy enjoys more in life than digging in his heels? Wait another year and Kane’s value will certainly drop – but the club will still be well placed to cash in. Advantage Levy.
Whereas Kane’s options, with three years left to run, are – as we are witnessing – both limited and pretty unseemly. Of above-board options there are precious few; and of the various forms of tantrum on offer, Kane has now had a healthy stab at most.
Curiously, and for reasons that others are presumably better able to understand than I, as far as I’m aware he has not yet submitted a formal transfer request (and you may with considerable justification call me old-fashioned, but I’d have thought that would be the obvious starting point for any such process of extrication).
Beyond a formal transfer request, all that remains is for him to refuse to play for the club. Kane’s form on the tantrum front suggests that this is now very much on the cards – and yet the situation remains that with the three years left, there is little imperative for Levy to sell up.
3. The Gentleman’s Agreement
The plot thickens with this business of the ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ of Summer ‘20, supposedly granting Kane the good word of Daniel Levy that he could skip off into the hills come Summer ’21.
Difficult to cast any useful judgement on this particular chapter of course, the whole drama being by its very nature the sort of thing conducted in hushed tones, behind closed doors and with nothing concrete to support one side or t’other.
In a sense though, there’s the rub – a gentleman’s agreement does not provide anything concrete.
So for Kane to base his entire gambit on this was, one might topically say, speculative. Behind closed doors Levy may have delivered an ode channelling the best of both Shakespeare and Churchill, guaranteeing Kane in no uncertain terms the freedom to dance off in whichever direction the wind blows; Kane himself may have danced a little jig as he left the meeting and tootled off triumphantly to his gang to share the joyous news; and if anything like this sequence of events did indeed transpire then one would understand Kane picking up the nearest toy and hurling it from his pram.
However – with not a word of it committed to paper the whole thing rather disappears in a puff of smoke, and the dashed thing about puffs of smoke is that no matter how much one grasps at them, and no matter how much detail one later uses to describe them, once they’re gone there’s not a damn thing one can do to get them back. Whether it happened or not, the gentleman’s agreement gives Kane no leverage. To the faux pas of signing a six-year deal and expecting to wander off halfway through, one can add the faux pas of relying upon a verbal agreement to supersede that six-year deal.
So while I’ll offer Kane a chummy pat on the back, as a small act of sympathy, I’ll as soon suggest that he really ought to have known better and is now paying the price for some pretty poor planning.
4. Man City
The other element in this is the poor, cash-starved lambs of Man City, desperately scrambling together enough loose change for £100m bids for both Jack Grealish and Kane.
First of all, something about the way City have gone about their business in the last ten or so years gives the impression that they do not want for cash, so few hearts will bleed if they bleat about being priced out of the deal.
Secondly, by valuing at £100m the lad Grealish, they might have inadvertently done themselves a mischief in their planned summer shopping spree, because Harry Kane – with his goals, assists, international career, golden boots and so on – will, by whatever metric, have to be valued at one heck of a higher price.
And again, with Kane’s contract still alive and kicking for three years, the onus at this point is on City to cough up rather than on Spurs to sell. All of which rather suggests that the ire Kane is venting at those in the corridors of power at N17 might more appropriately be directed towards those controlling the purse-strings in Manchester. The onus is not on Spurs to sell; it’s on City to pay whatever price is named, if they really want the chap.
5. Kane’s Reputation and Spurs Legacy
This whole sordid business does Kane’s reputation few favours. Now many footballers, admittedly, would not care a hang for reputation, and happily wave from a luxury yacht, sipping cocktails, puffing a cigar and leaning back to have grapes dangled into their mouth, while indignant mortals like yours truly hammer away at their keyboard.
However, one suspects that Harry Kane is cut a little less from this cloth. “Role model”, “England captain” and “all-round reputable egg” are the sort of anthems he likes to hear. On top of which, having mooched about White Hart Lane since his childhood days one had laboured under the impression that here was a man who cared deeply about the club and its fans, and rather thrived on the fact that the feeling was mutual.
Alas, the fellow has pulled some pretty thick moves in recent weeks, haemorrhaging class like nobody’s business. Gags like his unsubtle interviews, dismissive wave of the hand when reminded of his contractual obligations and now refusing to turn up to training all paint the picture of a man for whom ‘Respect for club and fans’ now sits a long way down the list.
All a dashed shame, for I had been readying myself to stick the fellow on a pedestal of the ilk of those occupied by such club legends as Perryman, Mabbutt and Ledley, and was delighting at the notion that this particular bean would imminently etch his name indelibly in our history by becoming our greatest ever goalscorer.
Well you can scratch all that. Every last drop of bonhomie about the place has evaporated, and where once the AANP dial was painted with adoration for the chap, now the very mention of his name brings about a look of narrow-eyed coolness.
Personally, I am not one for booing, as there still needs to be a certain decorum about things; but if H. Kane Esq. expects that his next contribution in lilywhite will be met with some sort of rousing cheer from the AANP lips then he’s as misinformed about that as he has been about every other element throughout this whole saga.
There is no telling what might happen next of course, and the production might end with handshakes and back-slaps all round, but I rather fancy that there is a dashed sight more drama still to come.