Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino says his side have had nothing to prove in the way they have coped without star striker Harry Kane.
Kane has missed the last seven games with an ankle injury, but Spurs have, in the main, coped admirably in his absence.
They were knocked out of both domestic cup competitions in the space of four days, but won all four of their Premier League games to climb back into the title race and dismantled Borussia Dortmund 3-0 to put one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Spurs have relied heavily on Kane’s goals in the past, leading to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola once referring to them as the “Harry Kane team”, although the Spaniard insisted that was meant as a compliment to the striker rather than the interpretation they were a one-man team.
While questions were asked about how Spurs would fare in their main man’s absence, which should come to an end against Burnley on Saturday, Pochettino is adamant his side have never been over-reliant on Kane.
“Only one person said that…he was over the moon, very happy after he beat Chelsea,” Pochettino said, referring to Guardiola’s 2017 comment.
“I never believed that [we were the Harry Kane team] and I’m never going to believe that.
“I think Harry Kane is one of the most important players for us and he’s one of the best strikers in the world. But football is about the collective, the squad.
“I don’t believe that we’ve proved anything without Harry Kane.
“I always want to have Harry Kane with me. We can win or lose with or without Harry, with one player or another player.”
It really has been a team effort in Kane’s absence as Fernando Llorente and Son Heung-min in particular have produced seven goals between them.
Pochettino has always believed in the importance of cultivating a team ethic and gets frustrated when the focus is on individuals.
“Sometimes there’s too much focus on, ‘without him, now the team is dead’, or, “with him, we’re going to win the World Cup’, Pochettino added of Kane.
“It’s not like this. You need your team-mates, the team, the squad that’s training every day.
“The players pushing to be better. There are a lot of aspects that are so important but the people only see who scores or who’s in goal saving a penalty.
“Sometimes it’s very frustrating for us.
“It’s so unfair that the perception is different to what we see.
“We try always to provide the best balance to the squad – to make everyone happy. It’s so difficult to make everyone happy.”