‘Hero Kane’ can achieve his career goals with me, says defiant Mourinho
Jose Mourinho had the statistics to hand – albeit not all were correct. He had what he must have believed was the headline for the newspapers and, most importantly for Tottenham Hotspur supporters, the Harry Kane not-for-sale message.
But while the stats were intended for Paul Merson, the former Arsenal forward and now Sky Sports pundit, and anybody who believes Kane would be better playing for a different coach at a different club, one suspects they were also for the striker himself.
Kane, or “Hero Kane” as Mourinho decided to christen him, will no doubt be impressed with the list the Portuguese reeled off in response to Merson’s claim that the England captain would have to consider leaving Spurs because he would never score 25-30 goals playing for Mourinho.
“For you not to lose time, I can say that I had a few strikers that played for me and they are not bad,” Mourinho said, glancing at his notes. “I had one guy called [Didier] Drogba. He played four seasons for me, scored 186 goals, which gives an average of 46 goals per season.”
It was unfortunate, therefore, that Drogba had actually made 186 appearances for Mourinho at Chelsea, rather than scoring that number of goals. He netted 73 times. The rest of Mourinho’s statistics were correct, and he said: “I have one guy that is not also bad. He [Cristiano Ronaldo] plays for Juventus now. He played for me three seasons, he scored 168 goals, which gives an average of 56 per season.
“I have another guy that is not also bad called Karim Benzema. He played for me three seasons, he was not always starting because he was quite young, but he scored 78 goals in three seasons, which gives a 26-goal average per season.
“I had another one called [Diego] Milito. He played one season for me, he scored 30 goals, he won three titles. I had another guy that plays for me one-and-a-half seasons. In the other half he had a big injury. A tall guy called Zlatan [Ibrahimovic]. He scored 58 goals, a 29 average.
“So, dear Paul, I have lots of respect for you, I think Harry Kane has no problems at all to score goals in my teams, especially when he is fit, when he has routines of playing. So, that’s my message to somebody that I have lots of respect for.”
There was also a message for any clubs that might have been alerted to the words of Merson, or indeed Kane when he admitted he would have to consider his future if Tottenham fail to progress.
Sitting eighth in the Premier League ahead of tonight’s London derby against West Ham United, Spurs face an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League, even though they will be lifted by the return of Dele Alli and Lucas Moura, and Jan Vertonghen and Michel Vorm signing contract extensions to the end of the season.
But asked what the club must do to hang on to Kane for another season, Mourinho said: “The club doesn’t need to do anything. The club just needs to say, ‘Harry Kane is ours, Harry Kane has a long-term contract, Harry Kane is not for sale.’ What do you have to do? We have to do nothing.”
Asked whether Spurs could match the England captain’s ambition, Mourinho said: “He doesn’t want anything different than us.”
Regardless of the Drogba misread, Mourinho and Stefano Marchesi, his public relations assistant, would have no doubt given one another a virtual high-five over the “Hero Kane” title that was intended to create headlines and give the 26-year-old a fillip ahead of the West Ham clash, following a subdued performance against Manchester United.
The United game was Kane’s first for six months, following hamstring surgery that had threatened to end his season, and Mourinho said: “Tell me from these first matches in the Premier League, which striker, independent of having a huge surgery like he had, did you feel was phenomenal, or was the normal level of his potential. Which one?
“Firmino, Mane, Salah was maybe injured or on the bench, Martial, Ighalo, Vardy, go from club to club and tell me which one arrived and exploded with the game.
“For me, it’s not Harry Kane, it’s Hero Kane. A guy that had a big surgery, had a lockdown that stopped the perfect rehabilitation and came to normal training only for a couple of weeks, for me, Hero Kane.”