Former Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham believes that Tottenham will miss injured striker Harry Kane even more than they did when he was missing under Mauricio Pochettino.
The 26-year-old has been ruled out of action for approximately six weeks after sustaining a hamstring injury in the latter stages of the game against Southampton on New Year’s Day (Football.London).
Kane has been in fine form since the arrival of Jose Mourinho, not only in front of goal but also dropping deep and helping the team create chances in addition to holding the ball up effectively.
Higginbotham believes Spurs will miss their talisman even more than did in previous years due to the more direct style they seem to be employing under their new boss.
In his column for The Sun, the former Premier League defender wrote, “Under Mauricio Pochettino, the loss of Harry Kane was an issue that could be solved quickly and smoothly. With the Argentine’s possession-based style, the likes of Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura could fill that gap down the middle and offer a similar service.
“But now with Jose Mourinho at the helm, who prefers the more direct approach, an injury to his talisman and lead striker is much more damaging. History shows us that Jose’s most successful sides have centred around a main man up front.
“Starting off with Chelsea from 2004 to 2007, he won two titles with Didier Drogba. With his title-winning Inter Milan in 2008/09 he had Zlatan Ibrahimovic, before winning the Treble a year later with Molito.
“At Real Madrid, where he lifted a La Liga title in 2012, he was spoilt for choice with the likes of Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain. Back with Chelsea in 2014, another title came his way thanks to the likes of Diego Costa and the returning Drogba.
“An impressive cup Double with Manchester United in 2017 was down to the brilliance of Ibrahimovic, before he relied a year later on the presence of Romelu Lukaku. And so arriving at Spurs to find Kane already at his disposal, Mourinho has began to slowly implement his style, revolving around the England striker.”
Referring to Tottenham’s tenancy to transition from back to front quickly under Mourinho, he insisted that the side will suffer without a target man up front in the England captain’s absence.
Higginbotham added, “After nine Premier League games and one FA Cup game in his Spurs tenure so far, he has had more possession in seven of those matches. Of those, he has won only three, lost two and drawn two including Sunday’s 1-1 result away at Middlesbrough in the Cup without Kane.
“In contrast, in the three games he has had less possession; he has won two of them and lost just one. So it is clear what his intentions are with this Spurs side — allowing the opposition to have the ball while the back three or four play deep.
“And with the likes of Toby Alderweireld’s passing ability, Spurs can get the ball forward far quicker with accurate long passes forward towards Kane. He then has Moura, Son and Dele Alli around him to link up with to devastating effect.
“The average number of long balls in Jose’s first nine Prem games is 54.5, whereas in Poch’s final nine Prem games it was 46. Kane is the all-round, ultimate front man. As a defender in preparation you would watch DVD clips of the striker and find out his weaknesses.
“But Kane has no weaknesses; he can do everything as that focal point. And that is why his hamstring injury is such a big blow to Mourinho and his way of playing.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Higginbotham is spot on in his analysis here as it is clear that the team are overly reliant on Kane given the way they are playing under Mourinho. To me, the situation further highlights the importance of bringing in a centre forward in January who can serve as Kane’s back up until his return.
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