In the programme for Daniel Levy’s first match as chairman of Tottenham he said that his aim was to “restore the heritage and soul of Tottenham Hotspur” and then adding that he “wants to see Tottenham competing in Europe every season again”. Way back in 2001 by Europe it’s reasonable to assume that Levy meant the Europa League, which for many Spurs fans wasn’t something to turn their nose up at, who were we to look down on glory glory European nights against famous clubs like AaB Alborg and Wisla Krakow?
No one at the start of Pochettino’s reign could have envisaged a time where Poch would be sitting down planning his side for a Champions League final, even at the beginning of this season most fans wouldn’t have put it down as their most likely end-of-season-scenario. When we had one point after three games we looked down and out, when Sterling scored in the 92nd minute we looked down and out, when Ziyech scored Ajax’s second of the night we looked out, yet here we are, proud, stoic and off to Madrid.
The fact we’ve made it to the Champions League final without our academy graduate turned best number-nine in the world couldn’t be more Tottenham if we tried. Harry Kane epitomises everything about the Pochettino reign at Spurs; he’s not silky smooth, he can’t skin defenders but just like Pochettino he gets the job done in a no-nonsense manner. The last three games in Europe for Tottenham have arguably been the biggest of the modern era at Spurs and we’ve managed to scrape our way through without our talisman Harry Kane. This has not only proved that we’re not a one-man team like a bald-ego-maniac-with-several-bank-accounts once said we were, but it has led to one of the most difficult decisions a Tottenham manager will ever have to make.
Pochettino is in a classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t type scenario, if he plays Harry and the result doesn’t go as planned he should have started Moura and let his momentum and hat-trick performance carry us into the final but if he starts Moura and things don’t go well he should have started our key-man. The reasoning behind both players starting are valid; Moura scored arguably the most important hat-trick in Tottenham’s history and has done more than earn himself a place in our starting eleven. It’s not only his performance against Ajax that puts forward a case for him starting; Moura scored a vital away goal at Barcelona (tapping in a cross put in by Harry Kane no less) which helped us qualify for the group stages and his tracking back and helping Trippier defend in the first leg against Man City cannot go unnoticed.
Moura has had a great European campaign, and on his day can look like a complete world-beater but his hat-trick against Ajax is basically what Harry has done for the past four years; drag us out of situations where a loss looks inevitable. Harry may have gotten injured in the first-leg against City and missed those all-important games but it is Harry and his sheer commitment to the Tottenham cause that got us into this position in the first place. Back to back golden boots, scoring 56 goals in 2017, it is undeniable that Harry is not only the most lethal finisher we have at Tottenham but our most important player. His all-round ability, his shooting, his passing, his hold up play, Harry adds something different to our front-line. It is undeniable that Harry does everything in his power to help Spurs and it could be argued that sometimes his single-mindedness has cost us; flying into tackles he doesn’t necessarily need to make have led to injuries and then coming back too early form injury has led to Harry playing at 70%. There is the legitimate argument that a 70% Harry Kane is still better than most other strikers but in a game like the Champions League final when immortality and second place are separated by less than an inch is it worth the risk?
If Harry comes back in our shape may have to change, our whole game plan may have to change, but with Harry in our team we have a player who is arguably the most gifted to play for Tottenham of the past 50 years and a man who bleeds lilywhite like the rest of us. Whether it be Harry Kane or Lucas Moura starting there is one thing that is for sure, there’s no man better qualified to make that decision than Mauricio Pochettino.
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