Kane’s been given the script to perform Mour than one starring role
I’M fascinated by Harry Kane’s evolution, and the reason is, I see a touch of my history in his development.
People have compared his ability in the box to mine, and that’s quite flattering.
There’s no doubt he’s the best goalscorer of his generation, with an ability to find space in the penalty area, an ability to anticipate where the ball is going to be… and where the defenders are not going to be.
That’s what I like to think I did. People always called it instinct, but I beg to differ. I call it years of practice, and years of learning where the best returns come as a goalscorer.
You only have to look at Kane’s development to see that. He went out on loan all over the place and all over the divisions, wasn’t fancied by a succession of Spurs managers, and probably only got his chance because they couldn’t get anyone else.
Yet his incredible hard work, his refusal to relent or give in, got him to the very top. Now, though,
I’m seeing a different
He’s dropping deeper, not playing off the shoulder any more, allowing Son with his pace to perform that role. Yet it hasn’t blunted his goalscoring, and he’s also showing far more of his passing range, and his ability to create.
The question is, has he done that because injury has blunted his ability to play that role where he looks to get in behind? It happened to me. I spoke in this column last week about the serious cruciate ligament injury I suffered, and how it maybe took away that tiny bit of explosiveness I had as a kid.
Like me, Kane has never been that quick, but (I like to think) like me, he has that ability to get away from a defender over those crucial couple of yards in the penalty area. That comes from speed of thought, not speed of legs.
With me, though, I couldn’t quite push off as quick after the injury. And I wonder if Harry has the same problem, after what has been a serious injury in the past three or four years? Maybe, maybe not.
What I am seeing is a player who is clearly capable of filling both roles, in that he has been magnificent in dropping deeper, and finding the sort of passes that someone like Kevin de Bruyne would be proud of. And I’m seeing a striker who is still sixth in the Premier League scoring charts.
I know Jo s e Mourinho has come in for so much stick since he arrived at Spurs, but for me,
it’s very good management from him. He is letting his star player loose, and giving him a far greater range in his role on the pitch.
Now defenders don’t know whether to go with him when he drifts deeper, or stick goal side of Son ( below),
for fear of his pace. It also allows Kane to come later, and that makes it harder to mark him – as teams were doing two and three deep when he was the only threat.
It’s an evolution of his game, but also his mentality too. I do believe in the past, he simply didn’t have enough confidence and belief in anyone else around him to do the job. Kane was the shoulder player and, if he didn’t do it, Spurs lost.
I reckon that is what Mourinho has brought, an ability to manage his star player better, to get him to see that he can perform different roles. And it helps when Son is on fire as he has been.
As my career showed, it is possible to keep playing at the top even if you lose an edge through injury, and I don’t doubt Kane will do that. Players do lose a touch of pace and sharpness as they get older, but in fairness I haven’t seen that yet from Harry. For England’s sake, long may it continue.