Former Newcastle United and England striker Alan Shearer has criticised Mauricio Pochettino for deciding to start Harry Kane in the Champions League final.
The Tottenham Hotspur striker had not played for almost two months with an ankle injury which he picked up in the quarter-final first leg against Manchester City.
He declared himself fully fit in the build up to the match against Liverpool and made it into the starting eleven at the expense of hat-trick hero Lucas Moura (BBC).
Kane looked rusty during the European showpiece at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium and looked short of match fitness. He did not play his usual style of pulling defenders around the pitch and dropping deep to try and create space for the likes of Heung-min Son to run in behind.
Shearer claimed that Lucas Moura would have been the better option for Pochettino to start with and that his gamble of bringing Kane back into the fold had failed and suggested that the Argentine could now be regretting making such a big call.
Shearer said in his column in The Sun: “I’m sure Pochettino agonised over whether to start Harry Kane but he got that one wrong.
“Kane didn’t look fit at all and didn’t turn up in Madrid — he was nowhere near as sharp as he could and should have been.
“I imagine Harry was in Pochettino’s ear all week and he has had a week to judge it based on seeing him in training. I’ve been in the same situation myself.
“He may never feature in a European Cup final again so he would have been desperate to play. But you have to judge him on his performance and he simply wasn’t 100 per cent fit.
“Harry Winks was exactly the same — he hadn’t played for over two months yet he was risked to start in such a huge game for the club.
“To play one was a gamble, to play two who haven’t played for that long was a huge risk and it didn’t pay off.
“I’m sure Pochettino will be thinking “If only”. If only he had done something different. Lucas Moura could have offered them an alternative way of playing.”
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and had Kane delivered, I’m sure Shearer would have been the first to claim Pochettino was right. If your most prolific striker says he is fit for a final, then you have to start him.
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