I had planned this post before Harry Kane scored last weekend against Manchester City, but I think the title question still remains, as firstly he nearly missed it against the Citizens and secondly he was offside. I’m not going to slate the Spurs striker in this article, but look analyse his performances in general.
What Kane did in the second half of last season was incredible. He burst onto the scene in spectacular fashion, and finished 2014-15 with 21 league goals and the PFA Young Player of the Year award. Amongst the madness, he scored within 80 seconds of his England senior debut in March. It was a quite remarkable breakthrough from a player who was never seen as a really hot prospect at White Hart Lane and started the season as the club’s third choice striker.
This season though, we are yet to see the Harry Kane that bamboozled defences and dazzled supporters in the previous campaign. Could it all have been a fluke? Has he crumbled under the hype and pressure? The inconsistent form continues from the 22 year old’s disappointing European Under-21 Championship this summer, whereby he was expected to fire the Young Lions to glory but instead failed to make an impact. He had two more shots per game than anybody else at the tournament (5.7) and didn’t get on the scoresheet, often deciding to shoot when there were much better options available.
Kane took the number 10 shirt at the start of this season in North London, but his form has dipped, with his strike against Manchester City on Saturday ended a 748 minute wait for a goal in all competitions. But I’m not one to believe in superstitious nonsense that a change of shirt number impacts a player’s form. So let’s look at the facts, comparing Kane’s stats from the start of 2015 until the end of last season to the start of this campaign. It’s not just his goal tally which has decreased.
His shot accuracy is lower this season, decreasing from 62% to 44%. There are some stats that have increased, but for the wrong reasons. Kane has been dispossessed an average 2.9 times per game this season, 0.1 more than his 14-15 average. He has also controlled the ball badly an average 2.4 times per game, up from 2.1 last season. So why aren’t we seeing the superstar striker of 2014-15?
I think one of the reasons is psychological. Last season for Kane was stunning by anyone’s standards and he probably even surprised himself. But because of his high goal tally, his, and our, expectations for this year were raised massively. I didn’t expect him to match last year, but I did think he would perform better than he has done. Because we are so used to seeing Kane score goal after goal, when he goes a long time without one, we think he has decreased in quality, as with any striker’s goal drought.
Secondly, those high expectations place a huge amount of pressure on Kane’s young shoulders, something which he may not be able to handle. Add in the fact that Mauricio Pochettino has given the striker the captain’s armband on a few occasions this season and you simply get yourself a 22 year old understandably overawed by it all.
Of course, you could say that the world’s best can cope with this pressure. And you’d be right. But I don’t think Harry Kane will ever be one of the world’s best and his struggle with pressure is one that many a young player has suffered. He’s shown he has real quality and looks like a really good prospect for both Tottenham and England. Despite his drought at club level, Kane has kept on scoring for the Three Lions with a stylish chip against San Marino and an excellent finish against Switzerland. Like any young player, he needs time from fans and pundits as well as advice and guidance from his coaches. That way, we should see him reach his full potential.
As for the main question: is he a one season wonder? I’m going to say no, purely based on the fact that we are only seven games into the new campaign and it will probably only take a few goals in the next couple of matches to get the critics of his back. If the goals continue to be few and far between, then will Roy Hodgson still pick him for England? And if he does, will Kane continue to hit the back of the net at international level? These are all questions that only the man himself can answer completely. Personally, I hope we get the 2014-15 Harry Kane back sooner rather than later.