Jose Mourinho strongly defended his record of getting the best from top strikers on Monday after criticism the Portuguese manager’s style could see Harry Kane look for pastures new.
Kane played his first game for six months in Tottenham’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United on Friday, but failed to get a single touch in the opposition box.
Mourinho’s tactics were again in the spotlight as Spurs tried to hold onto a 1-0 lead for most of the second half before Bruno Fernandes’s penalty secured a point for United.
Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson said he “worried” for Kane under Mourinho and a lack of trophies could also force the England captain to move on.
Mourinho addressed Merson personally during a videoconference ahead of Tuesday’s clash with West Ham and reeled off a list of statistics detailing the scoring rates of Didier Drogba, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Diego Milito and Zlatan Ibrahimovic during his time in charge of Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan.
Kane scored seven goals in 10 games following Mourinho’s appointment before tearing his hamstring on New Year’s Day.
“Harry Kane has no problems at all to score goals in my team,” said Mourinho.
“Especially when he is fit, when is fresh, when he has routines of playing that’s my message to somebody.”
Mourinho was also criticised for leaving a visibly tiring Kane on the field for the full 90 minutes last week.
Spurs wilted in the final quarter as Mourinho made just two of five allotted substitution compared with United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who used his full complement.
Mourinho, not for the first time, resorted to reeling out numbers during a typically entertaining interaction with media.
“The record of goals that Harry has with me is easy for you. You just look go to your data and it is easy to see how many matches Harry played with me before his injury and how many goals he scored.
“I can say that I had a few strikers that played for me and they are not bad. I had one guy called [Didier] Drogba. He played for me [over] four seasons. He scored 186 goals which gives an average of 46 goals per season (Correction courtesy Sky Sports: 187 games, 73 goals).
“I had one guy that is not also bad - he [Ronaldo] plays for Juventus now. He played for me [during] three seasons. He scored 168 goals, which gives an average of 56 goals per season.
“I had another guy who is not also bad called Karim Benzema. He played for me [during] three seasons. He was not always starting because he was quite young at that time. But he scored for me 78 goals in three season which gives a 26-goal average per season.
“I had another one called [Diego] Milito. He played one season for me [and] he scored 30 goals. He won three titles and of course the average is 30 [per season].
“I had another guy that played for me [over] one and a half seasons. I say one and half because in the other half he had a big injury. A tall guy called Zlatan [Ibrahimovic]. He played one and a half seasons. He scored 58 goals which gives a 29-goal average per season.
“So, dear Paul, I have lots of respect for you. [But] I think Harry Kane has no problems at all to score goals in my teams. Especially when he is fit, fresh, when he has routines of playing. So, that is my message to somebody that I have lots of respect for.”— via Sky Sports
Mourinho bemoaned his lack of options from the bench, with Dele Alli suspended and Lucas Moura injured.
Alli and Lucas will be available for selection against West Ham and Mourinho is looking forward to having six attacking players to choose from for the first time as Tottenham boss.
“(Steven) Bergwijn and (Erik) Lamela, Lucas and Son (Heung-min), Dele and Harry, six attacking players, all different, all very good and it is the first time I have all of them available, which is the kind of problem which we coaches love.”
You can watch the press conference here:
(With AFP inputs)