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Mason denies that Kane was waving goodbye to the fans

Kane walked to all four corners of the ground clapping to the 10,000 fans following Tottenham's 'disappointing' 2-1 defeat against Aston Villa

20 May, 2021 — By Dan Carrier at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Premier League

SPURS 1 (Bergwijn 8)
ASTON VILLA 2 (Reguilon 20 OG, Watkins 39)

AND there it was. A tearful, lonely stroll at full-time. Shoulders dipped, and a face that said it all.

While there had been nothing concrete in the usual gossip swirling around Harry Kane’s future, there was something sadly revealing in his reaction when the referee blew up following Tottenham’s final home game of the season tonight (Wednesday).

Kane had huffed and puffed all evening against Aston Villa, watching forlornly as this mess of a team contrived to once again shoot themselves in both feet.

And what Kane must have been thinking. Opposite him another home grown lad, Jack Grealish, seemed to be enjoying his football – a viciously timed reminder of how Spurs have failed to build a team to match Kane’s talents.

Three summers ago, Villa were reportedly in financial difficulty and Grealish’s contract was nearly up. The story goes that Spurs tried to buy him for a low price – under £10million – and both parties were interested in striking a deal.

Then Tottenham came back with a fresh, lower offer, delaying things and annoying Villa. The delay allowed Grealish’s boyhood club to find a new owner, and suddenly the attacking midfielder didn’t need to move at all.

Watching Grealish dance merry rings round Tottenham’s tired – and simply not good enough – midfield was a sad reminder of how Spurs have failed to create a dynasty based on Mauricio Pochettino’s first and best side.

While eyes were distracted by the new stadium, and Pochettino’s incredible ability to string things along when proper investment might have garnered Spurs a league title, how did Kane? Seeing such an opportunity being wasted.

Instead, tonight’s home defeat to Villa felt like the last shudder of the corpse of Pochettino’s Spurs.

Jose Mourinho, brought into play Dr Frankenstein to this team, couldn’t jump start them in to life. Mourinho’s failure to do so has led Kane to feel he has seen enough, and time has run out for him to win what he wanted at Spurs.

Before the game chairman Daniel Levy made a heartfelt statement defending his custodianship, citing the money spent on both players and the new stadium.

For all the money spent on players, the fact is they simply haven’t been good enough. Levy’s statement of spending over £200m bringing in new faces now sounds like something not to boast about – rather a damning indictment of the scouting and coaching set-up at Tottenham.

Tanguy Ndombele, for example, has been at Spurs for two years now and, having cost in the region of £60m, is their record-signing. That he cannot get into the team for a game of this magnitude speaks volumes about recruitment, training and management.

Speaking after the game, interim coach Ryan Mason would not be drawn on whether he felt that the 2-1 defeat against Villa really was Kane’s last home outing, or if the striker had taken to the pitch for the lap of honour to say his final goodbyes.

“If anyone has been at the last home game of the season while Harry Kane has played at this football club, he has been pretty consistent in going around the pitch, clapping the fans and getting a good reaction,” insisted Mason. “Nothing has changed this season to home games in previous seasons, it’s normal.”

But there was no hiding the sense that this season has gone as badly as it could for Spurs.

Mason added: “We are disappointed with not only tonight, but also the season. It is not where we want to be. It’s no secret, we have said that, everyone has said that.

“It has been a disappointing campaign, but we have to try and get a positive result at the weekend and see what happens from there.”

And yet the evening had started so well. Steven Bergwijn, in for the rested Gareth Bale, robbed Villa defender Tyrone Mings of the ball on eight minutes and, with the wind behind him, unleashed a rising, rocketing drive that flew past goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

But then, Grealish started to show his creativity with a quickly taken free-kick for Ollie Watkins to chase. Hugo Lloris came dashing across, and tumbled into the forward as the ball skidded out of play.

There were calls from the Villa bench and players for a penalty, but referee Craig Pawson didn’t feel the need to check VAR and gave Spurs a goal kick. It was a let off, but Spurs got their comeuppance in almost comic fashion seven minutes later.

Villa had been pushing, sending in crosses and through balls for Watkins to chase, and Mason’s side looked increasingly uncomfortable.

The pressure paid off on 20 minutes when a cross came in from the Villa left, and Sergio Reguilon, who had drifted central, went to volley it clear. Instead the ball sliced off his boot and curved past Lloris.

It changed the complexion of the first half. Spurs looked rattled, and Villa, playing simple football, grew in confidence.

Dean Smith’s side were more fluid and more aggressive. And they took a deserved lead on 39, when another Reguilon error saw Watkins nod the ball into his stride and then slot home under the attentions of Eric Dier.

Spurs got increasingly frustrated in a second half that saw them display some attacking intent early on but lack any real rhythm or threat in the box.

An increasingly irate home crowd, who had boo’d the team at half time, jeered at the misplaced passes and the frequent loss of possession.

The occasional rally gave fans glimmers of hope – a flurry of shots in one early 10 minute spell saw Villa keeper Martinez pull off three great reaction saves – but this was, as often has been the case this season, an attempt to grind out a result rather than win thorough glorious flair.

At the final whistle it looked like Kane knew something special in his life was coming to an end. The performance and the result simply nailed home the reasons the club’s best player has almost certainly had his head turned by another club in a healthier position than Harry Kane’s Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs: Lloris, Tanganga (Doherty, 83), Alderweireld, Dier, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Winks (Ndombele, 73), Alli, Bergwijn (Bale, 72), Son, Kane
Substitutes not used: Hart, Sanchez, Lamela, Lo Celso, Aurier, Moura

Aston Villa: Martinez, Konsa, Hause, Mings, Targett, McGinn, Grealish, Traore (Philogene-Bidace, 90+3), Nakamba (Chukwuemeka, 88), El Ghazi, Watkins
Substitutes not used: Ster, Taylor, Luiz, Wesley, Barkley, El Mohamady, Ramsey

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