Pay Kane what he's worth
England striker still Spurs' only hope of European survival
MONACO v TOTTENHAM
(Tomorrow, 3.45am, Singtel TV Ch 111 & StarHub TV Ch 202)
Daniel Levy must soon acknowledge his club's true standing in European football.
The Tottenham Hotspur chairman will either oversee a Champions League revival against Monaco tomorrow morning (Singapore time) or recognise that his side remain minnows among the mighty.
The difference between the two could well be Harry Kane.
But the famously stubborn Levy refuses to accept his striker's exalted status within the Tottenham hierarchy.
He won't pay Kane what he's worth - causing an unwanted, unnecessary distraction.
Both parties will claim otherwise, of course, but the delayed contract negotiations say more about the club than the player.
In most instances, modern footballers are swiftly painted into a corner - dismissed as gluttonous, selfish narcissists determined to improve their personal wealth ahead of their team's interests.
But the unassuming 23-year-old doesn't present himself as a bling-covered billboard ready to turn up at the opening of an envelope as long as it boosts the Kane brand.
His current contract of £60,000 ($106,000) a week is less than Hugo Lloris' £80,000 and arguably less than half the reasonable amount expected for a Golden Boot winner and established international.
But Levy won't budge.
His strict salary structure supposedly encourages stability, but it actually creates uncertainty and underlines Tottenham's inferiority complex. They project a big-club mentality, but remain crippled by a small-time approach to accountancy.
Mauricio Pochettino has hinted that the club's underlying limitations in the transfer market stop the manager from really competing with the other London and Manchester clubs.
Tottenham remain undefeated in the England Premier League, thanks to the erratic nature of the competition and their manager's tactical nous.
But the Champions League offers a more accurate barometer of Spurs' development and they are clearly stalling on the continent.
Just a solitary victory in four games - one of which was a dispiriting loss against Monaco at Wembley - reiterates the gap between Pochettino's men and the rest in Group E. Two goals from four games provide the exclamation mark.
Tottenham are a little out of their league, which makes the unnecessary negotiation delays with Kane all the more galling.
Spurs' toils in the Champions League could be attributed in large part to Kane's earlier absence through injury.
Even the undefeated EPL record masked a worrying run of six games without a victory, until the fortuitous win over West Ham last weekend.
Two overriding factors contributed to Tottenham's lucky escape: Slaven Bilic's tactical naivety and Kane.
Bilic's late introduction of defensive midfielder Havard Nordtveit proved disastrous, as the EPL rookie gifted Spurs their late penalty.
Kane, of course, put away the spot-kick, to go with his poacher's finish moments before. Two goals in as many minutes pinched the points and lifted the striker's tally in derbies to 18 from 22 games, the best ratio of any striker in EPL history.
Not a bad effort for a footballer still scratching away at his obvious rustiness.
But a half-fit Kane is still a step up on Vincent Janssen, who currently views life at Tottenham through a half-empty glass.
At 22, the Dutchman remains a work in progress, but the sniper-like relentlessness of the EPL has shot his confidence to pieces.
Pairing him with Kane against West Ham was a mistake. Starting him against Monaco may be another.
Dele Alli was presumably rested at the weekend in anticipation of a Champions League contest that Spurs cannot afford to lose if they are seeking to extend their stay in Europe.
But their perilous position owes just as much to the club's inability to shake off that small-club syndrome as it does any individual travails on the pitch.
Pochettino hasn't been allowed to buy enough striking talent in depth.
In recent games, he has started Janssen up front with no reward. Even Son Seung Min has taken on a position that clearly doesn't work with the tools in his creative box.
When he came on against West Ham, the South Korean changed the game. His lively run and cross led to Kane's equaliser and he played a pivotal role in winning the penalty.
Son rises out wide. He shrinks up front.
But Pochettino's squad are not overly endowed with line-leading, reliable finishers. Kane stands alone.
He's not only a forward who provokes trepidation among Monaco's league-leading defenders, he's also a benchmark for Tottenham's ambition.
If Spurs are serious about their domestic and European proclamations, then they'll pay Kane the going rate for a man with golden boots.
Besides, he could yet prove the difference in Monaco.
And that would make him just about priceless.
I’m not panicking and I’m not demanding anything as I’ve read in the papers. We’re having a conversation and I have no doubts that we will get it sorted. I want to be here for a long time and I am sure I will be.
— Harry Kane, on his contract situation at Tottenham
A must-win game for Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur face a must-win game and will be motivated by thoughts of revenge, when they visit Monaco for their Champoins League Group E clash tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
The London side have lost both of their home games so far, to leaders Monaco and then second-placed Bayer Leverkusen.
The Germans now sit two points above them after winning 1-0 at Wembley and Spurs badly need to make up ground this week.
They got a boost in the Premier League at home to local rivals West Ham last Saturday, turning a 2-1 deficit into an unlikely 3-2 victory when Harry Kane, only recently returned from injury, scored twice in the last few minutes.
"It's a must-win game (in Monaco) and this gives us a big high to go out there and win," said Kane.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino added: "The last month has been tough for us and it's fantastic to discover that feeling again for the games ahead.
"The first is a game we must win against Monaco and it's for that reason we need to have the mentality and feeling that we can go to Monaco and win."
Tottenham remain the only unbeaten side in the Premier League, although six draws in their 12 games means they are only fifth in the table, albeit four points behind the leaders.
Monaco are second in Ligue 1, three points off the pace, after a comfortable 3-0 victory at Lorient.
Colombia striker Radamel Falcao continued his fine run with another goal for the principality side and, after hapless spells with Manchester United and Chelsea, would love to remind doubting English fans of his quality.
He scored twice in the last Champions League fixture, an easy 3-0 win over CSKA Moscow, which followed two draws and a 2-1 win in their opening game at Spurs.
Bernardo Silva and Lemar scored in the first half-hour against Tottenham while Pochettino's side were still adjusting to Wembley, where they are playing Champions League games as they start construction of a new stadium at White Hart Lane.
The French side need only a repeat of last season's draw at home to Spurs in the Europa League to qualify for the knockout stage with a game to spare. - Reuters.