After an unforgettable 2014/15 season for Harry Kane, the Englishman has struggled to get started in a Tottenham shirt this season. Despite finding himself in good goal scoring positions in each of Spurs’ five games so far, the 22 year old has found it tough going to kick-start a season that he will, inevitably, find tougher due to the close attention paid to him by defences.
Kane showed enough besides goals last season to prove he was no ‘one season wonder’, but the added burden of being Spurs’ only out-and-out striker, as well as the pressure for him to replicate his stellar breakthrough season means his first Spurs goal of 2015/16 could not come quick enough. Despite not scoring a league goal until November last season, and still going on to score 21 in the top flight, a goal soon would be much welcomed amongst the faithful at White Hart Lane. So, where is it going wrong?
Firstly, suggestions that Kane is becoming complacent due to the lack of competition are far-fetched, but his complacency on the ball could be a worry. This is not a fresh concern as the young striker was often in a hurry to get shots away before looking up for a team mate last season, but he ended up finding the net more often than not. During the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final at Sheffield United, Erik Lamela played Kane in on goal at 0-0. He opted to shoot rather than square the ball to an on-rushing Christian Eriksen, who may have been in a better position to finish, with no defender pressurising him – although the Danish international broke the deadlock not long after.
A similar situation occurred in a handful of other scenarios, such as the home game against Manchester City towards the end of the season – where a pass to Nacer Chadli may have gifted Spurs an equaliser, yet Kane opted to shoot. As former Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe – and many before him - showed, a certain level of greed is not a bad trait for a striker to have, but the opportunity to play in a teammate in a better position should not be passed up. The start of this season has seen Kane look eager to score, understandably more so as the goalless spell goes on, but this may not always be best for the team. During the 1-0 win at Sunderland, there were times when Kane tried to beat more than one man, when a simple pass to a player in space may have suited Spurs better, also allowing Kane to move into the box where he has proved he can be so deadly.
Kane rarely found himself inside the box during the game, an area where he scored 19 of his 21 Premier League goals last season. On many occasions, Kane has been required to drop deep and add some creativity to Spurs’ attacking midfield and has thus spent less time where he is most dangerous. This was further evident against the Black Cats, possibly due to Spurs missing Eriksen’s creativity in the centre of the park. Kane has shown his ability to create, but if this was something the coaching staff had planned, questions must be asked as to why a number nine wasn’t brought in to fill the gap that is left up top when Kane drops deep.
Kane has had three glaring chances to end his mini-drought so far this season. The first was a cross in from the left side against Stoke, which Kane poked straight at Jack Butland, a chance that a confident striker may well have buried. If he had placed the touch anywhere else on target, he would have put Spurs 3-0 up and out of sight. The second was in the 0-0 draw at home to Everton, where Kane ran in on goal and hit his shot straight at an on-rushing Tim Howard, rather than lobbing or rounding the keeper. It can be likened to his goal at St James’ Park in the 3-1 win last season and was another one he would more than likely have put away if fully confident. The final, and probably least spoken about due to the result, was versus Sunderland. A floated ball from the left found Kane on the edge of the six-yard box with no pressure, but he only managed to scuff his volley wide of Costel Pantillimon’s left-hand post, much to the delight of the Stadium of Light. Kane’s reaction to all three misses were of deep frustration and it isn’t difficult to see that the weight of expectation has crept in to his mind, something he would find difficult to avoid being the only out-and-out striker at the club. Spurs fans are yet to see how Heung Min Son and Clinton N’Jie will adapt to playing in the number nine role, but goals from midfield will be especially important to easing the heavy goal-scoring burden from Kane’s shoulders. Chadli and Eriksen also achieved double figures in Premier League goals last year, but the likes of Ryan Mason, Lamela, Andros Townsend, N’Jie, Son and Dele Alli will have to chip in with goals if Spurs are to match, or improve on, last season’s fifth placed finish.
There is no doubting the ability and potential of Kane, who has the talent and time to break numerous records for Club and Country. However, he’s at a time in his career where he needs a ricocheted goal to go his way or for him to be given the chance to tuck away a penalty to kick things off – although his record from the spot isn’t the best. Whether it’s his positioning, his frustration or a combination of other factors, Spurs fans will hope they see the new owner of the iconic number 10 shirt score sooner rather than later.