Harry Kane has revealed Monday’s crunch talks with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy revolved around the possibility of the club finishing eighth or ninth after he admitted the Newcastle result had been building since last month.
Levy sacked Cristian Stellini following Sunday’s 6-1 thrashing at St James’ Park and consulted Spurs’ player committee, which is understood to comprise captain Hugo Lloris, Eric Dier, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Kane.
Stellini had only been acting head coach for four matches after he stepped up to replace Antonio Conte, who departed a week after his explosive post-match comments at Southampton where he was critical of his own “selfish players” who he insisted did not want to play under pressure.
Kane, speaking after Thursday’s spirited 2-2 draw at home to Manchester United, hinted for the first time the impact Conte’s words had on the squad.
“The chairman asked for a meeting. Obviously I won’t go into what was said but I think it was important (for him) to understand where the players’ heads were at in that moment,” Kane said.
“Obviously coming off the back of that (Newcastle) result and it wasn’t just that result, it had been building up since the international break when we conceded the two goals against Southampton.
“It was an honest conversation of where everyone is at and what we need to try to do to give us the best possible chance to finish the season with something.
“We’re still fighting for fourth place but if it’s not fourth we’ll try to finish fifth or sixth, as high up as we can.
“In this league, it’s so competitive, you can easily end up eighth or ninth if you’re not careful. That’s what it was – to give us the best chance and I’m glad we reacted like that.”
Kane was applauded off at full-time along with the rest of his team-mates on Thursday night but the atmosphere had threatened to turn toxic when Marcus Rashford added to Jadon Sancho’s early opener to make it 2-0 to United at the break.
It left Ryan Mason, in his second caretaker spell in charge, with a big half-time team talk but the 31-year-old exuded calm and saw Pedro Porro and Son Heung-min net in the second period to help Tottenham restore some pride after Sunday’s humiliation in the north east.
Kane added: “It was quite calm. Ryan said not to try to get back in the game in the first five minutes of the second half.
“He said, ‘there’s another 45 minutes, be compact, be ready to hurt them like we did in the first half but now we have to be more clinical’.
“We all said once we get one, we know we can really put pressure on them and that’s what happened. A shame we couldn’t then get the third but overall, when you’re 2-0 down, it was good to get a point out of it.
“I think Ryan’s been great. He’s come in at a really difficult time after that defeat and he’s not had long to implement any style, so it’s all been about motivation and getting some belief back in the boys.
“I’ve known Ryan a long, long time. He’s a great football brain. He sees the game in a really good way, he’s worked under some fantastic managers so far.
“So look, we’re all fully behind him. We really want to work for him and try to finish the season as strong as we can.
“And he’s a great guy and a great manager. Hopefully we can finish strong and see what happens.”
The Tottenham players reimbursed the away support at Newcastle and while Kane knows it will not make up for the result, he praised their support during Thursday’s draw with United.
“When you travel that far and you’re 5-0 down in 20 minutes, it’s not acceptable on any level,” Kane accepted.
“So, we know it wasn’t going to magically change their feelings or make the result any better but it was still something as a group we wanted to do to try to show we’re all together in this moment.
“And I thought the fans were amazing.”
Kane did not only receive support from the Spurs supporters on Thursday, with the United away following singing they would see him in June amid speculation over his future with just 14 months left on his contract.
But the Tottenham vice-captain insisted: “I heard what they were saying but I’m just focused on this team and trying to finish strongly.”