Down on shots, down on goals and down in the mouth… Harry Kane has become a PROBLEM for Tottenham as failed move to Man City leaves the England captain snubbed, subdued and struggling
- Harry Kane was all-but anonymous once again in Spurs’ 3-0 defeat to Chelsea
- The England captain is now four games without a goal for Tottenham
- He was desperate to leave this summer and looked despondent on the pitch
- Kane is struggling for shots, let alone goals, and Spurs must find a fix
To find the last time Harry Kane went four Tottenham games without a goal you have to retrace the steps of his golden boots to the Champions League final on June 1, 2019.
Kane rushed back from injury to face Liverpool in Madrid to no avail, having failed to score against Liverpool or Crystal Palace in the Premier League and Manchester City, when he was hurt in the first leg of the European Cup quarter-final on April 9.
He did strike twice on his next appearance, against Aston Villa, on the opening day of the following season, rather like the Jimmy Greaves one-liner about a goal drought he once suffered being the worst 15 minutes of his life.
Harry Kane has yet to score a goal this season in the Premier League, and he’s barely shooting
The Englishman desperately tried to leave Spurs this summer, having tried to force to Man City
Kane rarely has to wait for long and has such unshakeable faith in his own ability to find the net. It is what he does. He can be slow to get going after a break and the goals will surely flow again for a master of the art, but for the first time there is another factor in play as the world looks on.
‘He looked despondent towards the end,’ said Gary Neville, reflecting in the Sky Sports podcast on Kane’s performance in Sunday’s 3-0 defeat at home to Chelsea.
‘He’ll be thinking, “I’m here again, playing at Tottenham, we’re not going to challenge for titles or get into the top four”.
‘He wanted more, he wanted to go and challenge for titles. This Chelsea team will challenge for titles.’
Everyone knows Kane wanted to leave Tottenham in the summer. Neville certainly does because his interview on a golf course with the England captain confirmed the story already broken by his employers at Sky Sports.
Kane was starved of service and looked desponded as Chelsea dominated Tottenham
Everyone knows Kane thought he had a verbal agreement with chairman Daniel Levy after what had happened the previous summer, when there was interest from Manchester City before Kane was persuaded to stay for the first full season under Jose Mourinho.
Here was a manager famed for winning trophies but when Mourinho was sacked six days before the Carabao Cup final, which Spurs lost to City, Kane was among those left unimpressed.
He will feel at best dejected, probably let down and at worst betrayed by Levy as, five months on from Wembley, he begins a new cycle with another head coach searching for the right balance amid injuries and the red-list travel fiasco.
Kane’s attitude is one of his strengths. It is seldom questioned, at least not until his late return from a summer holiday this year.
If he really was thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’ against Chelsea, then what must he have been thinking when he started at Rennes, in the UEFA Conference League group stage on Thursday.
He loves to play in every game and he is chasing down Greaves’s club record. His only Tottenham goals this season came in the Conference League play-off against Pacos de Ferreira.
That was his first appearance after accepting defeat in his bid to leave and he scored twice in a 3-0 win, perhaps fuelled by anger and a determination to show supporters his heart was in it.
Daniel Levy refused to let Kane leave this summer, standing firm on his £150m price tag
Manchester City went for £100m Jack Grealish instead, and the star is now chasing trophies
But there were few smiles that night despite the goals, and Kane has cut a more subdued presence around the training ground this season, according to some sources. Not that he is necessarily sulking or brooding but just not quite as chipper as he was.
There were no smiles either on Sunday as Spurs toiled against Chelsea, with Kane deployed on the left of a front three with Son Heung-min through the centre and Giovani Lo Celso on the right.
Alan Shearer and Dion Dublin studied his touch map on Match of the Day 2 and analysed clips of him deep in his own half, but the real surprise was to see him shifted aside from the centre of the pitch.
Space against Chelsea’s defence is hard to find. Perhaps Nuno Espirito Santo wanted Son’s pace to test the 36-year-old legs of Thiago Silva or thought Kane would have more freedom to roam from wide.
Nuno did not explain his thinking but Thiago excelled and Kane did not have a shot on target until more than an hour had passed, by which time Chelsea were 2-0 up.
In the Sky studio, Roy Keane recoiled and criticised Kane’s body language. ‘Oh my goodness,’ said Keane. ‘The manager should’ve dragged him off.’
Kane wanted Champions League football but is now scrapping in the third European tier
Kane has reportedly been more subdued at training and looked detached in Sunday match
Like Mourinho, Nuno’s instinct upon arriving from Wolverhampton Wanderers was to tighten up and reinforce weaknesses at the back, and it was done with some success as Tottenham opened the Premier League campaign with three wins, all 1-0.
The natural consequence is fewer chances at the other end, always a moot point at a club with an unquenchable thirst for flair and adventure.
Not only is Kane down on goals from last season, he is also down on his shots, with only three on target this season compared to 10 in the first four Premier League games of last season.
He is down on chances created, down on touches inside the opposition’s penalty area, and down in the mouth because Chelsea gave an example of what genuine title-contenders actually look like.
It is a painful reality check, a reminder for Kane of where he is and where Spurs are in relation to the top.
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