In an article last season, when I bemoaned our lack of a goal threat ( Ok, I know I did that in most of my articles ), I commented to the effect that, though Harry Kane seemed like a nice, hard-working young man, the evidence of his loan spells at Millwall and Norwich was that he was unlikely to be the solution to our goalscoring problems and that a series of tabloid sports pages’ headline puns along the lines of ‘Harry Kane Blows Opposition Away’ were unlikely to be appearing any time soon. Like all fans, I know everything about what is wrong at Spurs and exactly what whoever happens to be the manager at the time needs to do to finally get us to become, if not exactly Premiership Champions, at least top-four regulars. And having a striker worthy of the name comes pretty high up the ‘What we need’ list.
Blessed with the gifts of hindsight, foresight, longsight, shortsight, 20/20 vision, night vision and television, I am, of course, never wrong. Didn’t I predict, early in the season, that Chelsea would surge to the top ( no-one else saw that one coming, eh?) and that Liverpool would find, now that they’d lost last year’s bite(r), that few teams would be inclined to match the generous donation of points and boost to their goal difference that we habitually award them and that, accordingly, they would struggle to get anywhere near the top four? Didn’t I say ‘Give Harry Kane a chance’? Er, not exactly. Or even at all. Guilty as charged. And for my penance I now metaphorically streak across the Lane pitch and give all those fans who saw something in him that I didn’t the chance to chant “You smug bastard” and “Who ate all the humble pies?” at me. I can take it…… if only for the fact that at least I can say that I didn’t just gratuitously slag him off and that he appears to have seen off the over-paid and under-performing Adebayor ( who I have gratuitously slagged off at every opportunity) for good.
Anyway, I’m bloody delighted to be proved wrong on this one. It’s great to see someone leading the line who, first off, can actually score; with his right foot, with his left foot and with his head. Thirteen goals in all competitions from eighteen games so far this season. Someone who works his bloody socks off; tackling back, always being available as an outlet when we are under the cosh. Who creates, as well as takes, chances. Who makes it difficult for defenders to get the ball off him, not just falling over when they breathe on him. Who tries to stay on his feet and gets up when he is knocked down or tripped ( said honesty not always working in his favour – by my count, he should have had about three penalties so far this season). Who shows a surprisingly deft touch, and decent pace, for the big guy he is. And all this, without our having to sign him for an exorbitant fee. ( Perhaps I shouldn’t mention those words, lest the pound signs that Daniel Levy has for eyeballs start rolling around like a one-arm bandit on the verge of a jackpot payout, particularly as some are already suggesting Harry be promoted from England’s under 21s to the senior team). It’s great to see, at last, a homegrown striker make it into the team (when did that last happen?) and to hear the Lane faithful chant ( as they are getting the opportunity to chant more and more often now), ‘Harry Kane, he’s one of our own.’
My worry is that we are in danger of heaping too much praise, and with it expectation, too soon on those young, albeit quite broad, shoulders. For a start, he is young, and young players inevitably will experience the odd dip in form from time to time. And, while he has scored in a number of consecutive games recently, he has tended to score single goals in games and I’d like to see him get the odd brace now and again, not least because we seem to be scraping home by the odd goal in three in a lot of games and, when Eriksen can’t pull a late goal out of the hat, we’re going to need that from him.
I certainly think he’s capable of that, albeit we might have to tweak the system to give him some bloody support and not expect him to do quite so much work outside the box. He’s missed a few chances recently and that’s, strange as it may seem, a good sign. It means he’s getting in the danger areas. Alan Shearer rightly pointed out on Match of the Day a few weeks back that it was good that he was not afraid to miss and the great Jimmy Greaves said exactly the same thing at a Spurs event I attended more recently. Far better to get into the danger areas and risk missing than to never risk getting there in the first place.
Should the goals dry up, particularly if no-one else steps up to the plate and our results suffer as a consequence, no doubt the media will quickly put him under the microscope – look at what happened to Raheem Sterling earlier in the season at Liverpool. I’d like to think our crowd will be more forgiving and understanding though. For a start, he’s a trier and he doesn’t look like he’ll hide. Here’s hoping that it won’t come to that, anyway, at least not yet, and not until we have someone who can properly share the goalscoring burden with him. For the moment, let’s celebrate him while we can. Chelsea are up next and I’d like to dream – for a day, anyway – of a January 2nd sports page headline: “Harry Kane devastates Chelsea defence.”If that comes to pass, I will truly be blown away.
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