Belfast Telegraph

Harry Kane could have saved me from the sack - Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has a special reason to be grateful to Harry Kane as he believes the striker saved him from the sack.

Pochettino was only four months into his first season as Spurs boss and his side, who had lost at home to Newcastle the previous week, were 1-0 down at Aston Villa.

Pressure had begun to mount on Pochettino before a dramatic turnaround at Villa Park as Nacer Chadli equalised with six minutes left and Kane added a final flourish.

The striker, brought on as a substitute, scored a deflected free-kick in added time to give Tottenham, and his coach, a pivotal victory. Pochettino sees it as a turning point.

"Maybe I can find many other goals that were fantastic but for me the goals are related to emotion, in the period you are living," Pochettino said.

"For me that goal was an amazing goal because it meant for us, for everyone, the possibility to stay here today.

"It's true, the team were 14th or 13th and we were a little bit under pressure because the team were there and play well, but not win games.

"Always in football, when you don't get good results, the first to be sacked is the manager. That is why that goal allowed us to carry on working and try to change the club."

Kane will be looking to continue his rich vein of form against Swansea on Saturday after his double against Borussia Dortmund in midweek took his tally to six goals in four matches for club and country.

After breaking the 100-mark for Spurs last weekend, the England forward also now has four goals in four in the Champions League.

But while his record puts him in the same bracket as some of the world's deadliest finishers, the closest Kane has come to lifting a major trophy was a League Cup runners-up medal in 2015.

Former Manchester United and Everton midfielder Phil Neville told BBC Radio 5 live this week that Kane may have to leave Tottenham to be rated a "world-class player". Pochettino disagrees.

"I think it is two different things," Pochettino said. "If you see different players and big players, it depends on the team, on the possibility to play in different leagues and countries.

"There are many factors. It is no doubt Harry Kane is one of the best strikers. He does not need titles to show he is one of the best strikers.

"It is true all players try to score, to win and of course to win titles, that is the aim of everyone, but for me so far Harry Kane is showing he is one of the best strikers in the world."

Dele Alli is available again this weekend after missing the win over Dortmund through suspension and Kieran Trippier is expected to be rotated back in for Serge Aurier.

Erik Lamela (hips), Danny Rose (knee) and Victor Wanyama (knee) are all still out while Fernando Llorente is likely to be named on the bench against the club he left in the summer.

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