opinion : Andy West

Goal machine Kane deserves more credit

Andy West

OCTOBER 7 — Did you hear about the striker who scored 21 league goals one season, followed that up with 25 in the next, and then bagged another 29 in the next?

Not a bad record, is it? And when you also consider that he also became a regular in his international team, scoring at a rate of a goal every other game and even rising to the captaincy at the tender age of 24, it should become clear that we’re talking about a pretty special player.

And Harry Kane is, make no mistake, a pretty special player.

Right now, he is in the best form of his career — which is saying something considering the bundles of goals he has consistently tallied ever since becoming a first team regular for Tottenham in the 2014/15 season.

Since the start of September, the striker has scored 14 goals in just ten games, including a hat-trick in the Champions League against APOEL, two goals apiece in EPL wins against Huddersfield, West Ham and Everton, and a last-minute winner for England against Slovenia on Friday which secured progression to next summer’s World Cup Finals.

The figures outlined above would be impressive in any league, so the fact that Kane has achieved them in the English Premier League, one of the best competitions in the world — and that he has done so with a competitive but not title-winning team — leaves no room for doubt: he is clearly one of the best strikers in the world.

But you wouldn’t necessarily think so judging from the assessments of the Tottenham forward’s game which appear in the press and on social media forums.

According to many people, Kane is overrated, a one-season wonder and (to use that most modern of insults) a complete fraud, and even the way he has led the EPL’s scoring charts for two seasons running hasn’t been enough to win over some doubters, who still think that Kane isn’t really very good.

I suppose a lot of this opinion comes from Kane’s old-fashioned, relatively unsophisticated style of play.

He is not the kind of player who will dribble past three defenders and caress a perfectly weighted curling shot into the top corner; instead, he is more likely to barge his way through a challenge and smash the ball as hard as possible into the back of the net, ideally taking the goalkeeper with it.

This is not the way modern football is “supposed” to be played, because highly technical football has been very much in vogue ever since Pep Guardiola unleashed his brilliant Barcelona team upon the world ten years ago.

On the whole, I don’t oppose that point of view. A technically good team will overcome a technically poor team more often than not, and one of the great flaws of English football in the last couple of decades is the inability of youth training systems, both in schools and at clubs, to teach sufficient technique to young players.

However, it is also true that there is more than one way to win a game of football, with Atletico Madrid’s recent successes perhaps the best example of technically limited players making the very most of their skills through hard work and good organisation.

Ultimately, results speak for themselves and there can certainly be no arguments with the results achieved by Kane over the past three years.

Scoring 14 goals in ten games is the kind of thing that only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo usually do, and although I’m not saying that Kane is at their level, his goalscoring exploits are a rare feat indeed.

However many goals he’s scored, though, one major deficit on Kane’s record so far is trophies: to date, he has not won anything at all.

Tottenham’s progress under Mauricio Pochettino gives him a good chance of claiming some silverware in a cup competition, but their hopes of lifting either the EPL or Champions League trophies are slim.

On the international stage, many Englishmen are getting excited by the idea of Kane inspiring the national team to a dramatic triumph in next year’s World Cup Finals.

Realistically, though, that won’t happen because England just aren’t anywhere near good enough - as shown by their desperate troubles in disposing with an ordinary Slovenia team in Friday night’s qualifier, when Kane’s last-minute winner was rather undeserved.

So Kane will probably have to look elsewhere for the silverware to match his scoring record, and Spurs fans probably should reconcile themselves with the idea that their star striker could already be into his last season with the club.

In the not too distant future, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich will all need a proven world-class striker to respectively replace Karim Benzema, Luis Suarez and Robert Lewandowski.

At the age of 24, the timing is right for Kane to step up to a club of that stature next summer. Leaving Tottenham will be a wrench, but it’s probably what he needs to do in order to progress his career — and, perhaps, finally prove the remaining doubters wrong.

Messi or Ronaldo lining up alongside Harry Kane in El Clasico? Don’t be surprised.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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