Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes Mauricio Pochettino made a mistake at Tottenham in opting to start Harry Kane over Lucas Moura in the Champions League final in Madrid last June.
Kane suffered lateral ligament damage to his left ankle on April 9 in the quarter-final first-leg against Manchester City and his season appeared to be over (Independent).
However, the striker managed to return in time for the final and took his place in the starting eleven despite not playing any competitive football for months.
Lucas Moura, whose sensational hat trick against Ajax in the semifinal carried Spurs to the final, was the unlucky one to miss out at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Kane was pretty ineffective in the game and Ferdinand believes the England captain was not fully fit.
He said while he understood why Pochettino started the 26-year-old, he insisted that it was always going to be difficult for Spurs to ‘carry’ the striker during the all-important final.
Speaking during BT Sports’ Champions League Throwback show (as relayed by Football.London), the defender said: “Listen, I’ve been in teams when players have been injured and you know they’re probably not fully fit. But before the game, you feel better when they’re in the team.
“When someone like Harry Kane is on the team sheet it makes someone like Virgil van Dijk think it’s not going to be as easy of a night as it could have been. There’s a respect level before a ball is kicked.
“More often than not, the player doesn’t perform because of the injury they’ve been carrying and the form isn’t quite there. The sharpness isn’t there.
“You sit back and reflect in hindsight: ‘He shouldn’t have played’. It’s a very difficult situation and I understand the reasons for playing him because he’s such a top player and he means so much to the club.
“In games like this, you cannot afford to carry players. If I was to go into management, that’s the advice I’d give for anyone going into management.
“In the big games, you cannot afford to carry players, no matter what level, carrying people, more often than not you get found out.”
Spurs Web Opinion
While it is easy to point to the decision to start Kane as the problem in hindsight, in fairness to the striker, many of our players didn’t turn up for the final. In my opinion, Pochettino’s biggest mistake at Tottenham was his decision to publicly declare before the final that he might leave if the club wins the trophy.
He seemed to alienate quite a lot of players with his comments and his repeated insistence of the squad needing a rebuild and not being realistic contenders certainly wouldn’t have gone down well with the squad.
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