Harry Kane has suggested that he and Bayern Munich can exploit the turmoil around Manchester United when they face them in the opening round of Champions League group stage ties in Germany on Wednesday night.
United have travelled to Bavaria on the back of three defeats in the first five matches of the Premier League season and with fires burning on multiple fronts – taking in the internal suspension for Jadon Sancho after his criticism of the manager, Erik Ten Hag, and the leave of absence for Antony as he fights allegations against him by three women.
Ten Hag, who was booed by the Old Trafford crowd during the defeat against Brighton on Saturday – the first sign of fan dissent towards him – has been undermined by injuries and the loss of form of key players, namely Lisandro Martínez and Casemiro.
Kane, who is poised to make his first Champions League appearance for Bayern after his £100 million move from Tottenham in August, is wary of a United backlash. But when asked about the many issues there he admitted they would be a part of the equation at the Allianz Arena.
“I don’t know about the perfect time [to play United] because there can be a big response from teams who are going through a difficult spell but of course we have to use circumstances to our advantage, as well,” Kane said. “We need to go with big confidence. We are at home in front of our fans. It is important to start the game on the front foot and really try and put the pressure on the opposition. Overall it’s a game we want to try to dominate.”
The Bayern manager, Thomas Tuchel, who previously managed Chelsea, said problems would always be magnified at Man United. “I felt with United there was always a lot of noise,” Tuchel said. “A lot of pundits in the UK are ex-players from United. You have this legacy from Sir Alex Ferguson which creates a lot of pressure … a lot of expectation all the time. I would not say it’s an advantage for us. It’s common around United that little things become bigger than at other clubs. Or maybe just the talking about it is more noisy than other clubs.”
Ten Hag has lost Harry Maguire to injury, restricting further his options in defence where he is without Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphaël Varane, Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia. Mason Mount and Sofyan Amrabat are missing in midfield.
Maguire, jeered mercilessly when he came on at Arsenal and then again for England against Scotland at Hampden Park, heard Kane speak up strongly in support of him.
“He’s probably been scapegoated a little bit in terms of the way the team has gone over recent times,” Kane said. “From an England point of view he has been one of our best defenders and one of the best defenders in the history of our country in an England shirt. You get scrutinised all over social media but knowing him all he will want to do is work harder, improve and stay focused.”
Kane talked about how “there is a reason that Bayern Munich brought me to the club”, which was to win the European Cup for a seventh time – among other trophies – while he also said he was pleased to see Spurs start the season so brightly.
“I’m always keeping an eye on them and I’ll keep an eye on Tottenham for the rest of my life,” Kane said. “I’m really happy to see the team playing the way they are and to see the fans happy is a great thing. They’ve got a massive game coming up [Arsenal on Sunday] so, for sure, I’ll see how they get on over the course of the season.”