Mourinho hits back at Paul Merson’s claim that Kane will struggle to score under him

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

Ex-Arsenal man, Paul Merson, was critical of Jose Mourinho’s playstyle this week as he hypothesised that a defensive mentality could force Harry Kane to quit.

The Sky Sports pundit went on to argue that Kane is an isolated figure in the Spurs attack and that he cannot see the England captain getting 25-30 goals per season.

Merson argued (Sky Sports): “When Jose took the job I worried for Harry Kane.

“He played under Pochettino and Tottenham sort of had a go wherever they went. There were goals, there were crosses, there were shots.

“[But now] he’s going to be playing up front on his own and it is going to be hard work. In the end, he’s trying to hit 60-yard passes just to be involved in the game. That’s not Harry Kane.

“He’s not fit. He’s definitely not fit. They played with virtually 10 men.

“I think he’ll have a serious think at the end of the season, I really do. I don’t see him getting 25-30 goals next season with the way Jose will want to play.

“And Jose won’t want to play like he did when he first got in there and it was 4-2 and 5-3, no way. He’ll like those games like Friday night, 1-1.”

However, Jose Mourinho has now hit back at these claims in his Zoom pre-match press conference today. Tottenham play West Ham United tomorrow in the Premier League, with Kane available for selection under the Special One.

Mourinho recalled some of the best strikers he has worked with throughout his career and the number of goals they scored under him to prove his point. The players in question included Drogba, Zlatan, Ronaldo, Benzema, and Milito.

So far this season, Harry Kane has 17 goals and two assists to his name from 26 games in the Premier League and Champions League, impressive considering his near-six-month injury (TransferMarkt).

Kane had five goals in eight Premier League games under Mourinho before picking up that hamstring injury against Southampton (TransferMarkt).

Mourinho’s full rant was relayed by Football London: “I feel a bit strange at some analysis and some comments, especially as it looks for me at the beginning of some comments and analysis have started from Paul [Merson]. I have to say I respect a lot people like him and because I respect him a lot, I want to be nice in my answer.

“I don’t think he’s ready for a bad answer so I try to be nice and say something that people can think a little bit. First of all Harry played his first game for six months, and if you watch and analyse the game, compared Harry Kane with Anthony Martial. It was a game of many chances, it was a game where the two strikers had a lot of chances.

“Do you give credit to my defence for Martial game, do you give credit to the United defence for the occasions we create or didn’t create? You have to look at it in a balanced approach. Harry doesn’t play a game for six months. The record of goals that Harry has for me is easy for me. Go to your data and it’s easy to see how many matches he played with me and how many goals he scored before his injury.

“I had a few strikers that played for me and they’re not bad. I have a guy called (Didier) Drogba he played for me four seasons, he scored 186 goals – an average 46 goals per season. I had another guy who is also not bad, played for Juventus now. He played for me three seasons, he scored 186 goals, which gives an average of 56 goals per season. I had another guy who is also not bad, called Karim Benzema. He played for me three seasons, he was not always starting because he was quite young at the time, he scored 78 goals in three seasons, which gives a 26-goal average per season.

“I had another called (Diego) Milito, he played one season, he scored 30 goals, won three titles. I had another guy, he played for one and a half seasons seasons, in the other half he had a big injury. A tall guy called Zlatan (Ibrahimovic). He scored 58 goals, which gives a 29 average per season. So dear Paul, I have lots of respect for you. I think Harry Kane has no problem at all to score goals in my teams, especially when he’s fit and fresh and has routines of playing. That’s my message to somebody I have lots of respect for.

“I just gave him my answer, you’re all free to have an opinion. I am free to disagree. I could be aggressive in my answer. I have been aggressive many many times, I still can be.

“I decided, because it’s Paul and I have respect and other things more than respect, I decided to answer just with data and then you have my answer.”

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