MATT BARLOW: Harry Kane says ‘it’s time to really push on and win trophies’ at Tottenham… and with the buzz of five new signings, plus the impact of boss Antonio Conte, things are looking up
- Last summer Harry Kane’s mind was muddled by a possible move to Man City
- One year on and his focus could not be sharper as he prepares for new season
- Boss Antonio Conte, who arrived in November, has cajoled him back to his best
- And there is ‘excitement’ in the camp generated by five new signings
We know what he did last summer. There was Manchester City on his mind and confusion about his late return for pre-season training, then the goals did not flow in the usual fashion.
One year on and Harry Kane’s focus could not be sharper as he prepares for another campaign at Tottenham, talking with positivity about the ‘buzz’ in the camp and ‘excitement’ generated by five new signings — with Djed Spence close to making it six.
He is talking of his faith in boss Antonio Conte, who arrived in November and cajoled him back to his best.
Harry Kane’s focus could not be sharper as he prepares for another campaign with Tottenham
He is talking about helping Spurs back to where they should be, about producing when it is ‘crunch time’ and about delivering ‘something special’ for the fans.
He is even talking trophies.
‘We haven’t won a trophy in a long time,’ said Kane yesterday. ‘We haven’t been at the level we know we can be in the last two or three years.
‘Although we’ve done really well to get a Champions League spot and that gave everyone a good boost around the club, and an incentive to push on this season.
Tottenham striker admits Antonio Conte has taken his fitness levels to another level
‘It’s a big season. We’ve made some big signings, early signings which is great. We’ve got that to look forward to but there’s still work to do before the start of the new season.’
Kane was talking at a girls’ football coaching event in Seoul, hosted by Nike and Active Modoo, squeezed between two of Conte’s long and gruelling pre-season training sessions.
‘Antonio has been fantastic,’ said Kane. ‘I’ve learned from every manager I’ve worked under, and Antonio has probably taken fitness to another level for me.
‘He’s brought a real intensity to training. Antonio likes to work, he likes to be out on the training pitch for however long he wants and to make sure we’re well prepared going into each game. Mentality, being with him every day, seeing the way he prepares, the way he brings his passion and brings the best out of the lads, I’ve learnt from that.
Middlesbrough right back Djed Spence is close to being the sixth summer signing
‘I feel like I’m learning every year anyway and getting more experience and getting better, but with someone like Antonio, it’s speeding up that process even more.’
On Monday evening, Kane was not talking, he was on his knees vomiting during one of the punishing running sessions conducted by Conte’s fitness guru, Gian Piero Ventrone, in Seoul.
‘We’ve worked really hard,’ said the England captain. ‘We’ve got some new signings, there’s a buzz about the place. It’s been difficult at times in certain sessions but it’s been good and everyone is excited for the season.
‘We’re working in the right direction. Hopefully we can use some momentum from the end of last season to take it into this year and keep pushing on. I feel in good shape even though there’s still work to do in the next month. I feel like I’ve got a lot more to give.
Kane takes part in a girls’ football coaching event in Seoul, hosted by Nike and Active Modoo
‘I’m at that stage in my career where I want to keep pushing and keep improving. It was good to see how my fitness levels changed over that period when he (Conte) came in. It just made me want to continue that and do as much as possible to keep improving.’
At the end of the coming season, Kane will turn 30 and move into the final year of his contract. The big question is whether Tottenham can convince him to sign another.
And can they convince Conte to extend his deal, which runs out next year? Surely, to keep Kane, they must keep the coach he speaks of in such glowing terms. The two are entwined.
Or is he still determined to leave? Will he run down his contract, as more star players seem to be doing. Does the bitterness of last summer linger on? Is this intense focus simply one of the skills of a world-class athlete?
‘Yeah, I’m just looking forward to the new season and looking forward to seeing what we can do,’ said Kane, when asked if he considered last summer to be out of his system and a closed chapter.
Tottenham players and coaching staff took part in the session in Seoul on Friday
The answer could have been less equivocal but it seems as if he is talking in fluent footballese about taking one season at a time.
‘For me it’s just to have another good year, another consistent year,’ Kane added.
‘Try and help the team as much as possible, try and score as many goals as I can.
‘From the team’s point of view, it’s always to win trophies. There’s a good buzz around the club at the moment but as always you have to go out there and perform and show what you can do when it’s crunch time.
‘We haven’t quite done that over the years. Hopefully with this manager, this squad, we can really push on and try to do something special.’
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