Ange Postecoglou has scoffed at talk Tottenham are a better team without Harry Kane, but admitted the departure of the club’s record goalscorer has allowed other individuals to flourish.
Kane left Spurs on the eve of the season to join Bayern Munich in a deal that could rise to £120million in add-ons and which had been expected to derail a club that only managed to finish eighth in the Premier League last term.
The opposite has occurred with Postecoglou able to mastermind an unbeaten start in the top flight that has sent Tottenham to the summit and posed the question are the north London club better without their ex-talisman Kane, who scored 278 times in 430 appearances for his boyhood team.
Postecoglou cited Kane’s final outing in Lilywhite – a four-goal salvo in a friendly against Shakhtar Donetsk on August 6 – as evidence against the aforementioned rhetoric, although acknowledged the sale of the England captain has changed the dynamic of his attack, which is now led by the likes of Son Heung-min, Richarlison, Dejan Kulusevski and new signing Brennan Johnson.
“What I’ve been trying to explain is that individuals change the way you play,” the Spurs boss said ahead of a Friday night clash at Crystal Palace.
“I’m not into this commentary that we’re a better team without Harry because the last game Harry played for us, he did alright in our system when he scored four goals.
“It’s fair to say we would have been able to squeeze him in somewhere – and I’m being sarcastic there – but him not being there just allows us to bring different individuals into the team and they change the dynamic.
“Again, while the way I want my teams to play has a really clear structure, what I try to do is create a balanced squad where individuals can change the dynamics of it.
“Having Sonny as our nine is different from having Harry or even Richy as our nine. Having Deki as a winger or having Brennan Johnson as a winger changes it even if the structure is the same.
“Not having Harry there does change us as a team because we’re using different individuals, but if Harry was still here the structure would be the same and we’d have the same fundamentals of trying to dominate opposition, press the opposition, all those kind of things would still be there.
“Ultimately, I don’t want to suppress the qualities they have, I want to bring out the best of them within the structure we have.”
Tottenham captain Son has shouldered the burden in Kane’s absence with seven goals, while new number 10 James Maddison has immediately hit the ground running in N17.
Maddison scored for the third time on Monday night against Fulham and has also provided five assists to quickly become the team’s fulcrum.
Postecoglou said of the former Leicester playmaker: “He’s very intuitive around the game and at understanding the game.
“For all the players we try to provide a framework of education where we give them information to improve them as individuals, but some of them take them in a more broader concept of the team aspect and Madders is one of those.
“He takes the information but not just from an individual aspect but how it can help the team. The goal he scored the other night came not from his individual ability but just from him working hard.
“He pressed two or three times. That’s a conscious thing he has to do. That’s not just about him being a good footballer, that’s him as an individual saying I need to do this because I think the team will benefit and ultimately, he benefitted from it because he scored the goal.
“But if he didn’t someone else would have, like we did for Sonny’s goal, so I think he’s one of these players that looks at it from a broader perspective, not just how it can help him as an individual but how it can help the team evolve into the team we want to be.”
Spurs have scored 20 goals in nine matches to storm to the Premier League summit since Kane’s exit.