Harry Kane: Tottenham’s end to the season has been ‘unacceptable’
Harry Kane says Tottenham’s end to the season has been “unacceptable” and shows the Lilywhites have much to improve on after they missed out on second place and finished below Arsenal for the 21st year in a row.
After challenging for the Premier League title, Spurs have taken just two points from their final four games.
Having thrown away winning positions and drawn with both West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea, Mauricio Pochettino’s side lost 2-1 at home to Southampton in their last home game and then finished the campaign with a humiliating 5-1 defeat against 10-man Newcastle, who had already been relegated.
Tottenham trailed 2-0 at half-time at St James’ Park yesterday (Sunday) and, although Erik Lamela halved the deficit on the hour-mark and Magpies forward Aleksandar Mitrovic was then sent off, Rafael Benitez’s side scored three unanswered goals in the final 17 minutes.
That allowed arch-rivals Arsenal to grab the runner-up spot and end up above Tottenham, as they have done in every season since 1995 - and Kane admits that bitter blow has taken the shine off Spurs’ achievement in securing their highest ever Premier League finish and qualifying for the Champions League group stage.
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“We know how much [finishing above Arsenal] means to the fans, we know how much it means to the club,” said Kane. “When people think they’ve had a bad season and we’ve had a good one, and yet they still finish above us, it hurts.
“We needed to finish the season strongly. Two points from the last four games is just unacceptable considering how we’ve played for the rest of the season.
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“It’s very disappointing, it leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth over the summer. It’s been a fantastic season up until the last four weeks. In the last four weeks, we haven’t been good enough. Probably when we didn’t have a chance of winning the league, the mentality wasn’t there.
“The performance yesterday was one of the worst I’ve ever been involved in. In the second half we got back into it and, at 2-1 with them having 10 men, you expect us to go on and finish it off - but to concede three goals against Newcastle with 10 men is just unacceptable.
“It’s hard to put a finger on it but we just haven’t been good enough - not just yesterday. Last week we should never have lost to Southampton, and it probably started from the West Brom game, drawing that one. It’s hard to say. Obviously it hurts.
“But in hindsight, you have to look at the bigger picture, or try to look at the bigger picture. If someone said ‘automatic Champions League [qualification]’ at the start of the season, we’d have definitely taken it. It’s just a shame the way it ended.”
Kane added: “Days like yesterday and last week show there’s still a lot more work to be done - we haven’t cracked it yet. We’re still learning, we’ve still got to work hard, we’ve still got to improve.
“Everything is in place, we’ve got to try to stay positive - us, the fans, the club - because we are moving in the right direction. But we’ve got to learn from the mistakes and days like that.”
Kane and his team-mates watched champions Leicester City lift the Premier League trophy last weekend and he said: “We know it hurts, we’re professionals. We wanted it to be us lifting the league trophy. We’ve got to use it as motivation for next year.
“It’s going to be another difficult year. We’ll have to play a long old season like this one at the top level if we want to be fighting for the Premier League again, so we’ve got to use days like this as motivation.
“The last four weeks, we’ve got to learn from it - finishing teams off, finishing the season off. If we were in the title run-in and this happened, we’d be even more gutted. If it had come down to the last day and something like this happened, it would be even more hurtful.”
The only good news for Kane on the final day was that he won the Golden Boot, finishing one goal ahead of both Leicester’s Jamie Vardy and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and becoming the first Englishman to top the scoring charts since Kevin Phillips 16 years ago.
“It would have been nice to win it on a better day, that’s for sure,” said Kane. “It’s a personal achievement and something I’m proud of but if I had a choice between winning yesterday and winning the Golden Boot, I’d have rather won.
“For me, it’s a little bit of a good feeling but overall I’m gutted we haven’t finished the season off strongly.”
Kane has played in every top-flight fixture this season but there is no chance for a rest as he begins to focus on England’s Euro 2016 campaign in France.
“I think we meet up on Wednesday, so we’re straight into it,” he said. “It’s part of being a footballer, part of being a professional. You have to deal with this, deal with the major tournaments - you have to make sure you prepare yourself properly.
“I’ll do what I’ve been doing all season - make sure I’m eating the right food, make sure I’m keeping myself fit and my recovery is good. Now we’ve got to turn our attentions to the Euros.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs