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‘Even I wanted Harry to stay at Spurs’

OPINION: You can’t be on the side of protecting the soul of football, while also hoping that the England striker leaves so the club with the most money gets to have all the best recruits

26 August, 2021 — By Richard Osley

IT might not have been Harry Kane’s first choice to stay at Spurs, but we should all be pleased that he is.

I say that knowing he will probably score the winning goal in the north London derby next month, but there is something distasteful about the team who have just won the Premier League plucking the top players at will from Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur for grotesque amounts of money.

You can’t be on the side of protecting the soul of football, while also hoping that Harry Kane leaves so the club with the most money gets to have all the best recruits.

In Manchester City’s case, it’s worse still. Most clubs are now owned by people you wouldn’t want to go for a pint with, but City have regularly been accused of being a simple exercise in sportwashing: you watch the football and forget about the human rights concerns and discrimination against women and the LGBT+ community in Sheikh Mansour’s UAE.

When did you last hear it mentioned on Match Of The Day? There will be whataboutery in relation to other owners and funders, but in City’s case it seems extraordinary to simply look the other way.

Harry Kane

Kane hopefully asked himself where he would really feel at home and what success really means. Many of us gave up recognising whether City were real champions or not a long time ago. There is nothing impressive about their transformation. There is a heartbeat missing in their ascent to power – and it’s a world away from the local lads that George Graham broke Liverpool’s dominance up with: Adams, Rocastle, Merson and Thomas.

Alex Ferguson, at Manchester United, ended up spending a lot in the end, but he will be remembered for changing things by showing you could win the league “with kids”.

Those were genuine successes – teams that grew organically from youth players and careful scouting. Maybe Kane will win something at Tottenham, maybe he won’t, but the game is missing that one-club loyalty.

The sharing of players and managers around the same top clubs means supporters don’t know if their favourite goalscorer will be in a different shirt the following season. The connection with the fans should be considered paramount, but is now secondary to hard cash.

Jose Mourinho’s tour of Chelsea, United and Spurs was bad enough, but there is something messy and insincere about the players who bounce from one big team to another. Romelu Lukaku, you’re tapping the Chelsea badge now, but are you just passing through again?

Kane should see the romance in staying at Tottenham for life, breaking the club’s records and getting a statue.

It would certainly mean more than a financially doped “success” at City.

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