Jose Mourinho has passionately hit back at suggestions he will not be able to get the best out of Harry Kane as Tottenham manager.
Kane’s performance in Spurs’ 1-1 home draw against Manchester United on Friday prompted former Arsenal star Paul Merson to cast doubt over the England captain’s suitability in Mourinho’s system.
Responding at a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s home Premier League match with West Ham, the former Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea and Inter boss stressed he respects Merson.
But Mourinho felt the comments had prompted unfair analysis over Kane’s future at Spurs.
He launched into a four-minute answer listing forwards who had succeeded under his management, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, accompanied by statistics.
Kane had scored seven goals in 10 matches before suffering a serious hamstring injury on January 1, with the United game, in which he played the full 90 minutes, marking his return to action.
“I feel a bit strange about some analysis and some comments,” said Mourinho. “The beginning of some comments and analysis started from Paul.
“I have to say I respect people a lot like him and because I respect him a lot, I want to be nice in my answer. I try to be nice and I try just to say something where people can think a little a bit.
“First of all, Harry played his first game for six months and if you watch the game and you analyse the game, compare Harry Kane with Anthony Martial.
“Was it a game of many chances? Was it a game where the two strikers had a lot of chances? Do you give credit to my defence for Martial’s game?
“Do you give credit to United’s defence and for the occasions we created or we didn’t create? I think you have to look at it in a balanced approach.
“In our case, Harry doesn’t play a game for six months. Phenomenal [that he played 90 minutes].
“The record of goals that Harry has with me is easy for you. You just look, go to your data and it is easy to see how many matches Harry played with me before his injury and how many goals he scored.”
Uninterrupted, Mourinho’s impassioned defence continued as he added: “I can say that I had a few strikers that played for me and they are not bad.
“I had one guy called [Didier] Drogba. He played for me [over] four seasons. He scored 186 goals which gives an average of 46 goals per season.
“I had one guy that is not also bad – he [Ronaldo] plays for Juventus now. He played for me [during] three seasons. He scored 168 goals, which gives an average of 56 goals per season.
“I had another guy who is not also bad called Karim Benzema. He played for me [during] three seasons.
“He was not always starting because he was quite young at that time. But he scored for me 78 goals in three season which gives a 26-goal average per season.
“I had another one called [Diego] Milito. He played one season for me [and] he scored 30 goals. He won three titles and of course the average is 30 [per season].
“I had another guy that played for me [over] one and a half seasons – I say one and half because in the other half he had a big injury. A tall guy called Zlatan [Ibrahimovic].
“He played one and a half seasons. He scored 58 goals which gives a 29-goal average per season.
“So, dear Paul, I have lots of respect for you. [But] I think Harry Kane has no problems at all to score goals in my teams.
“Especially when he is fit, fresh, when he has routines of playing. So, that is my message to somebody that I have lots of respect for.”