Harry Kane walked into the media amphitheatre at the Allianz Arena and took his seat on a dais. In front of him, the stage was lit in glowing red. It was the red of Bayern Munich, not the red of Manchester United.
As Kane sat and talked about tonight’s Champions League group stage tie with Erik ten Hag’s struggling side, it felt as if the England captain was the living embodiment of the lack of ambition and failures of recruitment strategy at Old Trafford.
Kane was for sale in the summer and it is thought he was open to a move to United. One of the best strikers in the Premier League, England’s greatest goalscorer, a leader, a consummate professional, was available and United did not even try to sign him. Bayern paid £100million to make him their new figurehead, the new face of a great club.
United spent £72m on Rasmus Hojlund, who may go on to be a great success but is a relatively untried centre forward. It is easy to say now, but if United had bought Kane they would not be sitting 13th in the league. If they had bought Kane, they would be thinking about challenging for the title.
Instead, Kane is at a club that feeds on consistent success the way United once did under Sir Alex Ferguson. ‘When you have won the title 11 years in a row, the expectation is that it has to be done again,’ Kane said of Bayern. ‘I don’t want to be the player who doesn’t win it for the 12th season in a row.’
Manchester United will come face to face with their own folly when they line up against Harry Kane on Wednesday evening
Kane moved to Bayern Munich for £100m and United’s loss is certainly the German side’s gain
The England captain speaks at a press conference ahead of Bayern v Man United on Wednesday
Your browser does not support iframes.
Kane, 30, has moved to a club that expects to win titles and expects to challenge for the Champions League every season. United? The way they have started the season, they are already facing a battle to make the top four. When they line up against Kane wearing the shirt of another side, United will be face-to-face with their own folly.
‘It’s a big thing,’ said Thomas Tuchel, the Bayern coach, as he went into raptures about a player he said the club had chased for years. ‘We took the skipper of England out of England.
‘Anyone looking for a 9 would’ve been happy to have Harry in the team.
‘He makes the team better and gives you what you want from a No 9. He can drop deep, turn, use the speed of players around him, he can arrive in the box at the right time, he’s an excellent finisher and good penalty taker. I’m not sure what’s going on at other clubs but we’re more than happy that he finally took the decision and came to make us better.
‘Can he be a difference maker? He will always be a difference maker in any game — not only in goals. In time, he will make our players around him better, he will learn how to make them shine, he will assist and not only score.
Kane (left) is the living embodiment of United’s lack of ambitions after they decided not to move for the England skipper
‘There is no doubt he will be a leader for us. Harry has been doing this for years, he had Tottenham on his shoulders for year after year. He’s done it in his style — calm, humble, friendly, very impressive.
‘This is how he leads. There’s not one leadership style or one leader that you have to be or imitate. You do this in your own style and he’s not shy to do it here. He’s the same guy and that’s why we wanted him. When it’s needed, be calm under pressure, that’s what he does.’
United’s loss is Bayern’s gain. It may well be Kane’s gain, too. He would have made United better but then again, it already feels as if he dodged a bullet when United did not attempt to persuade him to move to Old Trafford. Under the dead hand of the Glazers, United are no longer a club where players go to realise their ambitions.
Kane has hit the ground running in Germany. He has already scored four times for Bayern, who are joint-top of the Bundesliga. Some of the questions posed to Kane referenced the rivalry between the two teams and Bayern’s shattering defeat to United in the 1999 Champions League final. Bayern have weathered the intervening years much better than their rivals. ‘There is a reason that Bayern Munich brought me to the club,’ said Kane.
The ex-Tottenham man has enjoyed a great start to the season after netting four in four games
‘They are obviously eager to get back to winning the Champions League. They feel I can be a big help and I feel I can help the team as well.
‘We have to first focus on the group stage and make sure we qualify, and starting well will be important. That is why I am here, that is why I want to play in these competitions at the highest level — to try and help my team win the trophies.
‘So even though there was a lot of noise around the idea I wanted to chase the Premier League goalscoring record, those individual records have never been something that I solely focus on.
‘They are a consequence of hard work and doing my best for the team but ultimately, for me, it was how can I push myself and how can I get better and better and I felt like challenging for the Champions League and challenging for titles every year was the best way to put myself in that situation.’