Harry Kane says the experience of last season is motivating Tottenham Hotspur’s latest Premier League title push, telling ESPN that it “hurt” to finish below Arsenal.
Spurs challenged champions Leicester City for the title but took just two points from their final four matches, slipping to third — behind Arsenal for the 21st consecutive campaign.
This campaign, they have more points, more goals and more clean sheets than at the same stage of last season but they trail runaway league leaders Chelsea by nine points.
“It hurt us a lot. Not just not finishing above Arsenal, we wanted to finish second. We did well all season, we went game-to-game with Leicester pretty much until the end of the season. We wanted to finish strong. If we’d finished second, everyone would have said ‘OK Leicester won the league but Tottenham had a good year,’” Kane told ESPN at the Lucozade Sport Made To Move campaign, aiming to get one million people moving by 2020.
“But it ended up with Leicester winning the league and Spurs having a disappointing season. But it wasn’t — it was a great stride and progression. That put a dampener on everything. Of course we want to finish above Arsenal, we want to finish above every team. But it’s more that we wanted to finish second to say ‘alright, we didn’t win the league but we had a great season.’”
Leicester’s remarkable fairytale caught the imaginations of even their opponents last season and Chelsea pair Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas, and former Swansea City manager Francesco Guidolin were among those to publicly back the Foxes for the title.
Chelsea still had Leicester to play on the final day of the season when they ended Spurs’ title hopes at Stamford Bridge in May, coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in one of their most spirited performances of the season.
Kane admits Spurs are partly motivated by a sense of injustice but insists they are more “mature” now, and have learnt lessons from last season.
“We understood why everyone wanted Leicester to win. They were the underdog for the neutrals. We did feel like every team wanted Leicester to win, so when they were playing us they went that extra bit further. Chelsea didn’t turn up all season but all their players were up for that game [at Stamford Bridge] to make Leicester win [the title],” the 23-year-old said.
“It was frustrating but that’s football, that’s a part of it. We got on with it, we dealt with it well. We’re not a team to moan and to throw our toys out of the pram. Last year wasn’t to be but we dusted ourselves down and this year we’ll go again. Teams are starting to respect us now because we’re one of the best.”
“We’re definitely more mature,” Kane added. “Last year was the first year in the Premier League for a few of our players. We fought for the title for so long and we were disappointed with the way it ended. This year we’ve had another year of playing together — we know each other better on and off the pitch — and we have a better relationship. I think that will carry on the longer we play together. I definitely think we’re more mature this year and we’ll see what happens from now until the end of the season. But in years to come if we keep our team, we’ll get better and better.
“Whenever you lose, you want another chance, you want to prove prove people wrong. That’s what we’ve got in our team. Personally, anything I lose at I want an opportunity to go and do it again. The Premier League is something we all want to win, our team is very ambitious.
“This season is a chance to put last season right. We did learn from it — at the moment Chelsea have got that lead but all we can do is keep winning games and doing what we’re doing.”