MARTIN SAMUEL: I’m not trying to sell Spurs’ best player and I don’t want him to leave – but Man United may feel they have a chance with Harry Kane that they haven’t got with Neymar

Why don’t you just say that Manchester United deserve to be where they are by virtue of their results and lack of foresight when Sir Alex Ferguson was nearing the end of his management. The likes of Tottenham, Everton and Leicester have been in the shadows far too long, yet when they have players of ability and are showing signs of progress, you lot pop up and encourage them to sell. Daniel Levy, Tottenham’s owner, would deserve to be lynched if he sold Harry Kane now – and would probably lose his manager as well. Let Manchester United struggle as others have, and come out of it by their own efforts. Right all the time, London.

There’s this bloke called Martin Samuel. He writes a column about sport every week, and then invites his readers to debate it. Yet here’s the funny thing. A lot of the readers don’t want to debate what Martin has actually written, but what they think he’s written, or what they’ve projected onto his writing. So Martin says that Tottenham would be mad to sell Harry Kane, and all the Tottenham fans go bananas and claim he is trying to sell their best player to Manchester United. We could make it interesting if you like, folks. I’ll offer a cash prize if you can spot where in Monday’s column I wrote that Kane should be sold to Manchester United, or anywhere else – or said that such a decision would do anything other than cause friction with the coach Mauricio Pochettino and undermine what could yet grow to be a serious title challenge. I raised the prospect of Manchester United coming in for Kane because I know that they want him, and it would certainly solve the biggest problem at that club. I think United might try to get something going as early as this January transfer window, and I can see why. I think Kane would be perfect for them. Equally, I feel it would be a terrible move for Tottenham, no matter the offer. Both of those opinions were expressed in the column. Meanwhile, anyone who reads this page regularly will be aware that I always advocate turning down the money. So, one last time for those still seeing shadows: TOTTENHAM SHOULD NOT SELL KANE TO MANCHESTER UNITED. But that doesn’t mean United shouldn’t, or won’t, try to get him. Are we clear? And one more thing. To those who think my column gave Manchester United ideas: have you lost your minds? They’re sixth, but they’re not drooling morons. They don’t need me, or anyone else, to point out that a bloke who scored 31 goals last season and has one less than Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney combined this year, might be worth a place in their team. Anyway, on with the debate, but first a short moment of reflection. Ian Kilmister died this week. His mates called him Lemmy. Below is one of his many moments of glory – and, for those who just come here for the sport, arguably the best song about cycling ever written. Don’t tell me you thought it was about space travel, too? That’s why you need to pay attention to the words.

When Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick left, Tottenham were not the team they are now. When Luka Modric and Gareth Bale left they basically forced their moves by refusing to play – so in the end Daniel Levy got the most he could for them. Kane has shown no signs of wanting to leave and definitely not to Manchester United – even more so with the current manager or uncertainty over who they would bring in. Everyone has a price though. If Chelsea had offered £100m for John Stones, Everton would have sold him and no matter how good he turned out to be, I don’t think anybody would argue. Silly money is silly money. Thomas, Watford.

That was my point, surely, and the point made by the anonymous executive that I quoted in the column. Tottenham have always been receptive to the lure of the outrageous offer, so Manchester United may feel they have a chance with Kane that they haven’t got with, for instance, Neymar.

Have you looked at the league table? Why would he join a team struggling below his? Captain Scarlett, Detroit.

Because he might consider a five-point gap at a specific moment in time less of an indication of what will unfold over the next decade as the fact that Manchester United have won the title 15 times since Tottenham last did it. I’m not saying that would matter to Kane, necessarily, but using your logic, an ambitious player should join Leicester, not Tottenham; and Watford, not Liverpool.

Why go there? Manchester United are in a slump, while Tottenham are moving to a new ground soon. Clubs like Tottenham can realistically look at United as catchable. History is great but that’s all it is; Liverpool prove that. Tottenham can get in the top four now; they just need to keep their best lads and truly believe. SeanEvans65, Stoke-on-Trent.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane has 11 Premier League goals for the season and 15 in all competitions

Tottenham striker Harry Kane has 11 Premier League goals for the season and 15 in all competitions

I certainly agree with that last sentiment about Tottenham and the top four. Yet isn’t that the difference between the two clubs? For Tottenham, qualifying for the Champions League remains a success, for United, nothing less than the title will do. I think Tottenham could be title contenders this season, but let’ s not pretend that they are shooting for this every year. Equally, while Tottenham are very much in a jam tomorrow position with the new stadium – and prior to moving in, may have to take a season-long detour to Milton Keynes – Manchester United already possess the biggest club ground in the country. I’m not trying to sell Tottenham’s best player – I want every club to mount a challenge to the elite – but we need to be realistic about comparisons with Manchester United in terms of potential.

Kane’s fine if he’s given a shooting opportunity in front of goal but don’t ask him to create anything. You’ll never win a European trophy with the likes of Kane in your team, not up against Robert Lewandowski, Neymar or Cristiano Ronaldo. He has found his level in the Premier League but would flounder abroad. Big Observer, Dundee.

Well, that’s funny, because Kane’s dinked chip to Christian Eriksen in the fifth minute against Manchester United in August is one of the best passes I have seen this season. He is a lovely player who has worked very hard at his game, against others who may have been born with their gifts, and is all the more admirable for that.

Rather than just opening up the chequebook, Manchester United should realise they have stopped doing what brought them success in the first place. Tottenham have copied United’s old formula – a good manager who puts work ethic, discipline and attitude into young players who have a genuine feeling and love for the club, Mauricio Pochettino has also developed a solid spine, while allowing a few players the freedom to be creative. Kane should stay put as Tottenham are going places for all the right reasons. Rodders, Essex.

A very good argument, Rodders. I completely agree.

Regarding Kane this is frivolous and mischief making nonsense, and surprise, surprise I read Samuel is a West Ham fan. Jay, Loughton.

Presumably on one of those websites where fans get together to swap paranoid conspiracy theories about media agendas. Yes, Jay, the West Ham contingent in the media often gather over a plate of jellied eels, plotting ways to engineer Tottenham’s downfall. It was us that got Real Madrid going over Gareth Bale, you know. They were going to buy Matt Jarvis until we tipped them off. Equally, I don’t think Manchester United had even heard of Kane until I mentioned it. By the way: what part of the sentence “Tottenham would be mad to let it happen” did you interpret as a desire from me to see Kane sold?

As a Manchester United fan I’d love it if we signed Kane, but I think he should remain at Tottenham. They have a promising manager, they’ve got a good team coming along and they’re playing some brilliant football with excellent young players. United right now are an absolute shambles. It would just hinder his progress. SeAndre3000, Barrow-in-Furness.

And didn’t Paul Scholes say that no striker would score goals the way the current United team is set up?

Kane would be a great addition and United’s next manager should make this his priority. Stevebafc, London.

I think it is the club’s priority, Steve. That’s why I wrote the column. And, yes, I saw what you did. ‘Next’ manager. Very clever.

Samuel is saying another big club should buy another player. He was the first to say Everton ‘have to sell John Stones to Chelsea’. How did that work out? Stephen, Liverpool.

Except I didn’t. Sorry, Stephen, you’re just wrong. I knew I wouldn’t have said that about Stones, but I went back through my columns from the time in case there was even a hint of it. A sentence that described the deal as inevitable, or an outlandish price I said they should accept, that you might have misinterpreted. Nothing. I don’t believe in selling – not Bale or even Ronaldo to Real Madrid. And not Kane to United either. But that doesn’t preclude me from writing about what could occur because we have to deal with football as it is, not how we would like it to be. Anyway, thanks very much for projecting your paranoia onto me but I’d be the last person to advise a club to sell their best player – not the first.

Everton defender John Stones (above) was the subject of a protracted transfer saga in the summer

Everton defender John Stones (above) was the subject of a protracted transfer saga in the summer

Stop stirring up trouble, Kane won’t leave. He loves Tottenham and we love him. He can achieve everything he wants if we carry on the way we are. Audere Est Facere, Watford.

Let me explain what players want. They want to win the league, they want to win the Champions League. Tottenham haven’t done the first since 1961 and the second, never. They have only qualified for the competition twice and it’s been going 60 years. I rate the current Tottenham team highly, too – but aren’t you getting a little ahead of yourself?

Typical journalist – buy Harry Kane and Manchester United’s problems will disappear, forgetting that three parties need to agree before the deal can happen. So, what happens if Tottenham, do not want to sell, Mr Journalist? Yake, Aberdeen.

Well, he doesn’t go. That’s obvious. But why waste time explaining the obvious?

Apparently they need Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy, too. In fact, anybody who scores a goal. Georgie, United Kingdom.

Yes, but I am told there isn’t the same feeling for Vardy inside Old Trafford that exists for Kane.

Buy Kane when the midfield and defence is terrible? Hilarous. Plus, it’s fine buying a striker but when they don’t create goalscoring opportunties what is the point? Ahijah Sellassie, Birmingham.

For a start, United’s defence is far from terrible. As for the midfield, perhaps with more of a focal point striker it might be unleashed from its shackles and become more productive. I do not believe that Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Memphis Depay and Ander Herrera couldn’t get something going.

Good job Samuel isn’t a manager – he’d just go out and buy everyone. Eric the Cat, London.

Well, if I was Manchester United manager and we couldn’t score goals, I’d go out and buy a striker, yes.

If, if, if – sports pages beyond actual results are almost as confusing as Rooney’s salary. Robb Flynn, Brooklyn.

Used up all the Christmas colouring books already, have you?

Kane celebrates with Spurs and England team-mate Dele Alli (left) after scoring against Norwich

Kane celebrates with Spurs and England team-mate Dele Alli (left) after scoring against Norwich

There is a difference between Tottenham selling Berbatov, Michael Carrick and Bale, and Tottenham selling Kane. He has loyalty to the club, is Tottenham through and through and wants success with them. Berbatov, Carrick and Bale had no loyalty to Tottenham and were actively seeking a move. Kane is happy and I’m sure Manchester United could spend less money on someone else who will also score. United maybe have to look at how they play. No matter the striker, they still need to give him a decent service. Jbspurs, York.

Yes, one of your own and all that stuff, I understand. Yet what about Pochettino, or Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen or Eric Dier? How do they differ from the players whose heads were turned by Manchester United or Real Madrid? If Madrid, or Barcelona, or Bayern Munich, saw the excellent work the manager was doing and came in for him, could you be so sure of his loyalty? And what about the players crucial to Tottenham’s resurgence that are not products of the youth system? Tottenham are third – they have been here before, under Harry Redknapp. Eventually, that team broke up. I would be very optimistic right now if I was a Tottenham fan, too – but the rosy future is not just about keeping Kane but a whole host of others whose emotional commitment to the club might not be the same.

My eyes bleed reading this article. The answer to any football club’s slide towards mediocrity is not simply to throw money at the problem. There is quite clearly a more deep seated cultural issue within Manchester United that the purchase of one player – even Lionel Messi – will not arrest. Given the amount United have spent so far under Louis van Gaal, do you really believe the answer lies in a cheque book? Wow. This is not rocket science. This article is truly inept. It is what contributes to this country’s short term obsession with instant results. No doubt if the author were on the United board he would sanction buying Kane in January then sacking Van Gaal in February. You contribute to what is the very worst of football in this country. You have surpassed yourself once again, though I have come to expect nothing less. Well done. The Paymaster, London.

You have come to expect nothing less? And who the hell are you? Some two-bob screen jockey hiding behind a vague alias. A deep-seated cultural problem you say, not rocket science you say, but I notice not a single solution in sight. How glib is that? No, it is never as simple as throwing money at a problem, but some quick fixes work. If you can’t score goals buying a striker helps. Manchester United’s treble winners employed four strikers – Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Every one of them was bought. Still, at least I made someone’s eyes bleed. I’ve always wanted to do that. You know, in a Carrie-like way.

The league has evolved and you have to buy to compete these days. You can no longer rely on building a team around youth if you want to be able to contend for titles and in Europe. Banging on about not buying success is like constantly reminding your married friend that he didn’t like girls when he was seven. MK, Preston.

I liked girls when I was seven. Well, I liked these girls anyway.

Why would Kane leave Tottenham to join a sinking ship with deluded fans who live off past glories? Just like another team that plays in red who are based in the north west of England. Des, Reading.

Liverpool have never won the Premier League title. Manchester United haven’t won it for two seasons. Are you seriously telling me they won’t be back, or that the declines are already comparable?

Maybe Kane might not be at Tottenham his whole career, but why join a team of mercenaries, when the young academy-built Tottenham team is in better shape? Manchester United had ‘dialogue’ with Bale for ages, but nothing happened. Cartz, London.

I recall they came quite late to the negotiations with Bale, by which time he was already halfway to Real Madrid.

It is almost like the media want it to happen. They cannot bear to see their beloved Manchester United not winning. Ricospur, Reading.

You know nothing about the media and couldn’t be more wrong. To a man, football writers want to see something different and new. Leicester maintaining this run would be the greatest thing to happen to the league this season, not Manchester United’s return to supremacy.

Why should United buy Kane when they have potentially the world’s greatest player in Martial – or so they would have us believe. After all, he’s only 20. Pele at 17 scored two goals in a World Cup final. Now that’s what I call potential. Eyespy, Cleveleys.

It is possible to have potential without winning the World Cup as a teenager. You have set the bar ridiculously high there.

Spurs academy product Tom Carroll celebrates with Kane after scoring against Norwich on Boxing Day

Spurs academy product Tom Carroll celebrates with Kane after scoring against Norwich on Boxing Day

Yes, that’s right, Martin. United need to spend their way out of trouble. Funny thing is they’re not really in that much trouble, just facing the reality that they’re not top dogs any more. No amount of money is going to bring back what Ferguson did for the club. Uvavu, United Kingdom.

Really? No amount? We kid ourselves that transfer investment doesn’t bring success, based on isolated cases such as Queens Park Rangers and Leeds United, when the clubs concerned were badly run. Yet, basically, history suggests that buying big at a club of sufficient size will work, if that club is also professionally managed. Happened at Chelsea, and now Manchester City, happened at AC Milan in the 1990s, at Barcelona and at Manchester United, too. The reason Manchester United will find it hard to recreate the Ferguson era is that there is greater competition now than when the Premier League was in its infancy. The only way that would change is if Manchester United broke away and began negotiating their television deal independently. Then they could blow the rest out of the water.

Buy Kane? What about Martial? United were ‘tracking him for months’ according to you lot. What happened? Did he turn out to be a last minute panic buy because they were snubbed by Thomas Muller and Neymar? Are they finished? Yes they are. Zip Lightning, United Kingdom.

I doubt if they are finished – but I think they paid a high price for potential with Martial and are now realising that.

Funny how all of Manchester United’s deluded fans claim they don’t buy success, when the last proper talent they produced was the Class of ’92. John Seb, London.

Yes, but that’s true of most clubs. Think of Barcelona. Neymar, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Javier Mascherano – the core of players in the current team have been imported because it is unrealistic for academies to consistently produce first-team talent at an elite level in gluts of five and six. What happened at Manchester United was exceptional and could never be sustained. They will now produce academy talent in more consistent numbers – two or three in each generation would still be an excellent return. Below, a more realistic approach is taken.

As a long time Manchester United fan I am not as worked up about the current situation as others seem to be. Yes, the last 20 years have been great but nothing good lasts forever. Some of the best times I’ve ever had watching United were during the seventies and eighties when we really were rubbish but had great times travelling around the country with good mates supporting our team. We didn’t expect to win every time but we were there every game. It won’t do some of the supporters any harm to learn what it’s like to be there during lean times. It’s not all about winning; it’s about loving your club in good times or bad. We’ll be back, no doubt about it, but we have no God given right to be at the top. Andy, Wigan.

One of my boys is a Chelsea fan, like his mum. When they fell to 16th he had the same attitude. His generation having grown up in the good times it was a chance to show they were not plastic fans but true supporters. Anyway, he now supports Leicester. Only joking. He’ll kill me for that gag.

Chelsea's season of struggle will have been a shock to the system for the youngest generation of supporters

Chelsea’s season of struggle will have been a shock to the system for the youngest generation of supporters

Throw yet more money at it? How about coaching the players they have, and giving the guy they’ve got the time to do it. There’s no quick fix, it’s going to take time and it might get worse before it gets better. They have the right man to lay the foundations, give him another 18 months and the next manager will reap the benefit. SDG, Chippenham.

I’m not against persevering with Van Gaal but, short-term, I’m not sure he can coach the necessary goals out of Rooney or put Martial on the fast track he needs to place United in contention. I think the answer here comes from outside the club.

Kane is a Tottenham man through and through. The team is improving and will take its place in the top of the table in due course, using local talent, not the overpaid, over-publicised foreign talent most teams have. John Tymol, Welwyn Garden City.

Based on a minimum of 10 first-team league appearances this season, those local Tottenham players in full: Hugo Lloris (born Nice, former clubs Nice, Lyon), Kyle Walker (born Sheffield, former club Sheffield United), Toby Alderweireld (born Antwerp, former clubs Ajax, Atletico Madrid, Southampton), Jan Vertonghen (born Sint-Niklaas, former club Ajax), Danny Rose (born Doncaster, former club Leeds), Erik Lamela (born Buenos Aires, former clubs River Plate, Roma), Eric Dier (born Cheltenham, former club Sporting Lisbon), Mousa Dembele (born Wilrijk, former clubs Germinal Beerschot, Willem II, AZ, Fulham) Dele Alli (born Milton Keynes, former club Milton Keynes Dons), Christian Eriksen (born Middelfart, former club Ajax). So, basically, John you mean Harry Kane. Unless by local your point is that they all now live in Chigwell.

Kane is a good player but not the world class 20-30 goals a season striker United are crying out for. They have to go for Karim Benzema, Lewandowski or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as first striker, with Martial second. Ryanhufc, Hartlepool.

Benzema seems to have enough problems right now, and United would never get Lewandowski out of Bayern Munich. As for Aubameyang, he is having an outstanding season for Borussia Dortmund, scoring at more than a goal a game, but that does not guarantee he would hit the ground running the same way in the Premier League. We know Kane can thrive in English football.

United’s problems will not be solved by signing one player – whether it’s Kane, Messi, Neymar, Diego Maradona or Pele. That is massively oversimplifying the root causes of the club’s decline, which are sporting as well as administrative. United need a real shake up from top to bottom, with a young, fresh manager who has a modern outlook – someone like Quique Sanchez Flores, Jurgen Klopp, Diego Simeone, Roberto Martinez, Unai Emery or Massimiliano Allegri. This manager needs to be given time to build a team in his image and the board must run a football club, not a multinational business. Football success should be the priority – not TV deals, shirt sales in Asia or profits for the Glazers. LVG69, Madrid.

Hold on, one minute you’re taking Van Gaal’s name as your sign-off, the next you want him sacked for the flavour of the month young coach. Were you advocating Quique Flores this time last year when he was at Getafe? So why is he the man now? You talk as if those running the club are idiots yet want the next Manchester United manager to be whoever gets off to a flier at Watford. And Klopp? That’s some presumption that he would jettison Liverpool for a bat of the eyelashes from United. Martinez can’t even get the best Everton squad in decades into the top half and Emery’s Sevilla are eighth in La Liga and were knocked out of the Champions League by Manchester City. And I’m oversimplifying for saying it might be an idea to buy a striker. Seriously? Running a club is more than a grab bag of the latest fashionable names.

Tottenham haven’t sold a top player to a rival since the Berbatov debacle. Both Modric and Bale forced their moves and ended up at Real Madrid when bigger offers were received from Premier League clubs. Most recently Levy even refused to sell or loan Emmanuel Adebayor to West Ham because of where they were in the league at the time. Tottenham want to be a sustainable club by producing our own top quality players to save paying high prices and to sell Kane would completely defeat that object. Real ale Madrid, United Kingdom.

Is Modric still there? Is Bale? No, then they were sold, no different to Berbatov. The circumstances do not really matter. No still means no, even if the player is trying to force the move. The fact those you mentioned still left once the circumstances were right is what gives a club such as Manchester United hope. And, by the way, the reason Adebayor didn’t go to West Ham is the two boards cannot stand each other, and every negotiation ends in stalemate.

Dimitar Berbatov holds a Manchester United shirt after moving to Old Trafford from Tottenham in 2008

Dimitar Berbatov holds a Manchester United shirt after moving to Old Trafford from Tottenham in 2008

Here’s what Manchester United need to do. Start investing in its youth team and grow its own instead of bullying its way in and buying others. What’s the point of having a youth system if you hardly promote any of them into the first team? Klok9, Barnet.

I don’t think Manchester United need lectures in promoting youth. Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Jesse Lingard and Patrick McNair have been on the fringes this season. The will is still there, as it is with just about every club. And I presume you will be applying the same sense of moral outrage to Tottenham’s interest in Saido Berahino.

John Stones, Paul Pogba, Bale and Kane – £250m for the lot. Out goes Rooney, Michael Carrick and Ashley Young. If we are supposed to be the second richest club behind Real Madrid, with the biggest fan base on the globe, then start acting like it. We should not have to put up with the dross currently being delivered. Salford’s Red Army, Bury.

I agree that each of those players would benefit United hugely. They would also come to more than £250m, though.

I agree we do need a sriker, but we need a manager more. Why not ask Ferguson to step into the breach, at least until the end of the season? It makes more sense than panic buying a striker who would probably need at least a season to gel. Ethan, Malaga.

Sir Alex left on a high. I don’t think that’s the reason he left but it would certainly be a good one not to go back.

You’re just a trouble maker, Samuel. The three players you referred to all wanted to leave and the club really had no choice but to sell. Ivan, London.

I’d keep that to yourself if I was you. Do you mean all anyone has to do to leave Tottenham is ask?

You wrote that ‘£50m plus was enough to prise Fernando Torres out of Liverpool in 2011?’ This is not a valid point. Kane is at his peak, Torres was injury prone and had lost his touch. When his market value was about to dip, Chelsea came in with a £50m offer which was more than crazy for damaged goods. If Chelsea came in with £50m for Daniel Sturridge now we would take that as well. Liverpoolfan, India.

The season he left, Torres had scored nine goals in 23 games (one goal every 2.55 games). The previous season he scored 22 in 32 (one goal every 1.45). So while he wasn’t quite as prolific he wasn’t the washed-up physical ruin you make out. The sudden decline of Torres would have surprised Liverpool as much as anybody, and I can’t remember the fans rejoicing when he left. The day he walked out in a Chelsea shirt against them, they were going nuts.

Why the hell do Manchester United have to buy Harry Kane? They have no God given right to be top of the league. You southern journalists make me puke with your top four mentality. Why shouldn’t Leicester buy him to cement their place at the top of the league – or God forbid he wants to stay where he is and win medals with Tottenham. Nauseating. No wonder football is losing its attraction. The success of Leicester, Watford, Bournemouth, and to some degree Norwich, is refreshing and this is from a Sunderland fan. Juan F, Thailand.

Who really hasn’t been paying attention judging by the inclusion of Norwich in that list. Another head-scratcher is your – mistaken – belief that I wanted Kane sold by Tottenham to Manchester United based on my preference for southern clubs. Still, getting a lecture on the north-south divide from a bloke living in Thailand is a new one. Maybe you mean the north of Ubon-Ratchathani.

I don’t think I’ve ever read anything positive from Martin Samuel about Tottenham. Why is that? Sydneysider, Sydney.

I’d say it has more to do with you than me. Do you by any chance have a tinfoil hat?

I seem to remember Levy saying he would no longer sell the main Tottenham players to rivals in the Premier League. Fringe players like Younes Kaboul or Etienne Capoue aren’t an issue, but the likes of Modric and Bale will only go overseas. JC, London.

I can’t remember the last time Levy made a public statement so you may be surmising there, JC. Certainly selling abroad softens the blow in terms of direct competition, but it still leave a hole – as Tottenham found with Bale. There are of course different fixes. See below.

If United bought Kane for a whopping wedge all of a sudden he would be expected to do the impossible to justify his price tag. This burden could affect his performances. Kane may well be able to cope, but many have not. Never A Booking, England.

Yes, but Manchester United would barely enter the transfer market at all if they constantly worried whether a player could handle it. Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney did not come with guarantees either. Sometimes you have to trust your eyes. And now our weekly visit to Halfwits Corner.

Utter garbage. The selling price for Kane would make Manchester United’s eyes water. Don’t forget Martin Samuel is an Arsenal supporter and as every Tottenham fan knows they will do any childish thing to be top dogs in north London. Dave Spurs, Burton on Trent.

Yes, including going to Upton Park every week throughout our young lives just to work undercover and confuse you further. That’s how sneaky Arsenal fans are. But you’ve seen through it, haven’t you Dave? You’re certainly a wise one.

Pathetic journalism and a poor attempt to spark a transfer panic. Tottenham are riding high and do not need to sell. In fact one or two accusations and they could end up on top of the pile come mid-May. Matt, Croydon.

It’s accusations you want, is it Matt? OK, here are a couple. 1. You don’t know what the word ‘accusation’ means. 2. The word you’re groping for is ‘acquisitions’, an upmarket way of saying ‘buys’. Although I’d keep the syllable count low in future if I were you.

Matt’s comment is making me look forward to The Debate come Thursday. Jay, Birmingham.

Well, I hope I didn’t disappoint, Jay. You’ve put me under pressure there.

You say Everton just refused to talk about a price for Stones and hinted that Tottenham would have sold. The difference is that Bale refused £250,000 per week and said he wanted to go, while Modric even went on strike. If Stones had told Everton he didn’t want to play for them there wouldn’t have been much they could have done about it. Liverpool couldn’t hold on to Suarez or Raheem Sterling and United couldn’t hold on to Ronaldo. Yet it is always Tottenham that get singled out as a selling club. How many players have Arsenal sold? If the player is happy it is easy for the club to hold on to him. Hollowbread, Enfield.

It wasn’t so much my view as that of a leading Premier League executive that Levy will always give a price at which business can be done. I take your point about sales at the other clubs, but I think Tottenham get singled out because certain transfer events have stunted their progress so obviously. The loss of Berbatov and Carrick stopped them breaking into the top four, the loss of Modric, the waste of the £80m for Bale also had huge consequences. Personally, I think every case you mentioned had a detrimental effect on the selling club. Certainly, it is going to be a long road back for Liverpool without Suarez and now Sterling; while I wrote at the time that no English team with Ronaldo in it would ever lose a title on goal difference, as Manchester United did to Manchester City. And did Arsenal hand United the title by selling them Robin van Persie – of course they did. Yet I still think Tottenham’s loss is greatest, because they would have been a Champions League club a decade ago, and regularly since, had they kept their best players. By the way, you’re mistaken on Stones. He did cut up rough. Everton held firm.

The only chance that Manchester United have got of signing Kane is to appoint Pochettino as manager in the summer. Why else would Kane go to a sunset club like United? Pochettino’s name isn’t one that has been linked to the job as yet, but it should be. He’s a really excellent young coach who has lost just two games all season. Who else is realistically on the Old Trafford shortlist? Forget Pep Guardiola – they may end up with a Pedro situation. Mark Hughes is the only other current Premier League manager with credibility who would take the job. Overseas? Luis Enrique isn’t going to leave Barcelona, who would have Rafael Benitez, and Emery doesn’t have the big club experience yet. Allegri has done a great job at Juventus, is the right age and has also managed AC Milan. He’s got to be on the shortlist but top of the pile has to be the guy whose team is currently leading Serie A, who has won three consecutive Italian league titles, the Premier League and FA Cup and who loves living in Manchester. Roberto Mancini. Big Blue, United Kingdom.

Was all that just a platform for a Mancini wind up of United supporters at the end? If so, fair play, a lot of work went into it. If you were serious, however, I’d say Hughes has got about as much chance of being Manchester United manager as Mancini, and for the same reason. I agree with you on Pochettino, though. I think it’s a matter of time before his resolve is tested by a club that perceives itself as bigger than Tottenham.

Mauricio Pochettino is impressing as Tottenham manager with the club currently four points off the top

Mauricio Pochettino is impressing as Tottenham manager with the club currently four points off the top

I’m fed up with Manchester United wasting time bidding for players they cannot get rather than buying players who will improve the team now. You might say you don’t know whether you can get a player until you ask, but everybody knows Ronaldo doesn’t want to come to United and Real Madrid won’t sell him, ditto Muller and Bayern Munich and Neymar and Barcelona, and everybody knows that Tottenham are desperate to keep Kane. Levy wouldn’t sell him for anything less than an amount United simply wouldn’t pay – we’re talking over £80m. I seriously believe Levy would still turn down the offer if Ed Woodward, United’s chief executive, offered him £81m in full when the window opened. United could probably get three of Vardy, Mahrez, N’Golo Kante and Dmitri Payet for less than the amount of one of their many unsuccessful bids for unavailable superstars. They’d be much better off buying three top players who would improve the team rather than bidding for, but ultimately not buying, one of the world’s best. Fergus Sira-Lexon, England.

Yes, but as I said they don’t want Vardy and as for Payet, he is injured and likely to take a while to get match fit so cannot do much to impact on the season short-term. I take your point about impossible dreams, but United clearly don’t place Kane in that category. Equally, I sense that the club feels a responsibility to make marquee signings as much to maintain the Premier League’s place in the foreign television market and protect their investment. Financially, it would be disastrous if the Premier League was overtaken by La Liga because Real Madrid and Barcelona had all the top players. A club such as Tottenham may never compete at that level, but United can and I think they almost see it as their duty to be the flagship club. Now, obviously, that is not a purely altruistic measure but a way of maintaining their status but, nevertheless, I think if they restricted their shopping to picking off the best at Leicester they would feel they had failed.

I do love how journalists say a big club should sign a player like Kane from Tottenham, but then also lament the fact Tottenham are selling rather than trying to build a successful side. Here’s a conundrum; if United sign Kane then that’s the end of your beloved Rooney as a starter at United. You don’t spend £60m on Kane and leave him on the bench. Hendrox, Newcastle.

No, you play him behind Kane, in the No 10 role.

If Levy sells Kane, he would be driven out with pitchforks. Pitt The Youngest, United Kingdom.

Pitchforks? Where are you buying pitchforks in Tottenham High Street? I couldn’ t even find a copy of The Independent the last time I was down there.

Must be a slow day in the newsroom. Tottenham won’t entertain a bid for a boy who could see White Hart Lane from his school building. The difference is the TV deal means Tottenham do not need the money. PJ, London.

If you look at who owns the club, Tottenham have never needed the money. Always liked it, though, and never struck me as great sentimentalists about the local area, either. I’m not sure Joe Lewis can see very much of north London at all from his yacht.

Leave Kane alone. Why undermine him with this nonsense about Manchester United. Don’t try to ruin what could turn out to be remarkable success at Tottenham, just so you can keep writing about a has-been team. Dr Dom Cooper, United States.

I don’t think Martin writing an article will actually alert Manchester United. Higgo, Bath.

Amen to that little ray of common sense, Higgo. Well, that’s the final Debate of 2015. This column will return on January 14, so have a happy New Year and press play if you want to welcome in 2016 with a song of fitting optimism from the greatest lo-fi, hip hop, folk musicians ever to come out of St Andrews in Scotland. Frankly, I can’t believe the column’s been going close to three years and I’ve never put this up. Give it time, it’s a builder, and anyone who hasn’t got a big sloppy grin by the time the horns come in at the end should really be kept away from the hard stuff at the NYE party. The keyboard player went on to direct one of the greatest westerns of this century, Slow West. So the message really is that anything is possible. Keep that in mind, Leicester fans. Tottenham’s too – and for all the right reasons. Until next time.

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