Who's goal was it?! A load of fuss over nothing says Aaron Preston
Much has been made of last week’s outing at Stoke, an ugly 2-1 win that didn’t quite feel like a win, certainly not of the type we’ve become accustomed to this season. It was the sort of win that provides few talking points beyond the cursory shoulder shrug and “yeah, I’ll take it” indifference that one takes mildly pleasant news with. Or rather, it would be, if not for the goal that sealed the day for Spurs.
A free kick floats in to the box, guided by Christian Eriksen with the sort of laser precision we’ve all gotten spoilt on. For a half second it seems to pass just by the shoulder of Harry Kane before ending in the back of Jack Butland’s net. Goal scored, day saved, but for one seemingly academic question: whose goal was it?
Kane’s body language in the celebration after clearly shows he felt it was his. Initially, so too did the commentators. The cameras, however, show a different tale: the ball approaches, but never touches, Kane’s shoulder. This is the view of the FA, who have as of writing maintained that credit belongs to Eriksen. Kane, however, seems less-than-eager to let it ride, claiming in the post-game that the goal is his and doubling down on that assertion in comments stating that he would “swear on [his] daughter’s life” that the goal was his.
Predictably, the reaction of the professional opinion-havers and pundits has been less than kind. The media, desperate to flog a story from an otherwise tepid weekend of football (because really, how long can you go on about Jack Wilshere getting literally gobsmacked by a nobody centre-half from Southampton, or Pep getting brought down to earth by his old nemesis from the Bundesliga?) have latched onto the story to paint Kane as the latest Spurs villain: a self-centred striker, greedy **** willing to steal his own teammate’s thunder for the pursuit of an individual trophy, team harmony be damned.
To which I say, much ado about nothing.
That the media is making a mountain out of a molehill is evident by a few things we can be reasonably certain of. First, Kane, for his occasional selfish moments on the pitch and dogged desire to take a hat-trick of Golden Boots with him to Russia this summer, is by no means an unfair player. Nothing in his play or his presentation off the pitch has ever demonstrated that he puts himself above the club, or his teammates. In the infamous Battle of the Bridge, it was Kane urging his teammates to collect themselves and keep going, and in the event he ended the match as one of the few Spurs players un-carded that day. More than anything, that should give you an idea of his character: always passionate, but always aboveboard.
Secondly, we can consider the move of the club and manager Mauricio Pochettino to appeal the goal decision to the FA. Can anyone, for one moment, imagine that Poch would take this action if he felt it could cause disharmony in the dressing room? Especially now, at this critical moment? Absolutely not. Were there the slightest desire of Christian Eriksen to claim the goal as his, one imagines Pochettino very pointedly telling Kane to drop the subject, and score one of his own next week. No player, however talented, is bigger than the team, and no individual record worth jeopardising it.
Lastly, the reaction of Eriksen is telling. Does anyone seriously believe that with a place in Russia to hold on to, and goals at a premium, he’d passively allow someone to steal his thunder if he thought it was rightfully his? A game-winner, no less. The absence of any claim made by the man does not mean that the claim itself is invalid, but it does lend credence to the idea that perhaps Kane got the last touch.
For what it’s worth, I think Eriksen got it. In the end, the only one who knows for sure is Harry Kane, and in the end, maybe it doesn’t really matter. A Spurs goal, 3 points on the board and 10 clear of Chelsea heading into the weekend, level on points with Liverpool and facing a Manchester City that, to put it mildly, has seen better days. These are the things that matter. Let not the scribblings and quibblings of the back page create friction that never was. Instead, let’s hope for some more Kane goals–undisputed ones, ideally–and a stellar finish to a sublime season.