2014 was not a good year for Tottenham Hotspur or England fans. The former employed three managers between December and July and spent around a hundred million pounds trying to get into the Champions League places – a task they ultimately failed, while the latter experienced a dismal World Cup, finishing bottom of their group.
Nonetheless, there may now be reason to smile for both sets of supporters.
Spurs, under the careful guidance of Mauricio Pochettino, have started to emerge as European contenders, not least due to their impressive 5-3 win against previously runaway Premier League leaders Chelsea.
The north-London club are now in an impressive fifth position, and are only two points behind 3rd place Manchester United. Having only lost twice in 11 games, the fans can be forgiven for feeling optimistic about the remainder of the season and that something special may occur.
England, as aforementioned, had a dismal World Cup campaign in Brazil. However, there are some fantastic young talents emerging: Ross Barkley, Saido Berahino and Raheem Sterling to name just three.
At the heart of the optimism shared by Tottenham and England is Harry Kane, who has played a huge part in the rejuvenation of the Lilywhites and will surely receive a Three Lions senior cap in the near future.
Physically capable for the Premier League, a natural goal scorer, an instinctive finisher and, among other things, a good header of the ball. Having already scored an impressive 17 goals this season, at the ripe age of 21, Kane has an abundance of potential, but his development will have to be managed properly.
He boasts high level of energy, which he has shown with his adaptation to Mauricio Pochettino’s high intense pressing playing style. Throughout the season he has been a capable reference point in attack, bringing the likes of Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela into the fray; it’s no surprise to see that he already has a few Premier League assist to his name.
He bullies defenders with his physicality, while stretching defences with his endless running. He creates space for his teammates, as aforementioned, while his range of passing is excellent He can also shoot from outside the box or can dribble with the ball when required.
Does he have the best shot? No. Does he have the best pass? No. Does he have the best finishing ability? No. But in each key attacking area he is pretty damn good. In short, he is a great all-round footballer, something we are not always accustomed to seeing.
English fans, and the English game in general, have a tendency to over-hype (and overspend on) English players. £35 million for Andy Carroll, £20 million for Jordan Henderson and £24 million for Darren Bent are three crazy examples.
These figures are considerably inflated, and one hopes that no Premier League club pays this amount of money on Harry Kane. Aside from anything else, the price tags put considerable pressure on players who, for the large part, don’t constitute value for money.
Chelsea spent £80 million on two world-class strikers, Andriy Shevchenko (who managed 9 goals in two league campaigns) and the most famous flop, Fernando Torres, who only scored 20 league goals for Chelsea. It is unfair to put this extra-ordinary amount of pressure on these two world-class strikers, so it must be even harder for English talent to cope with such high demands.
A recent example is Jack Wilshere. After a stunning performance against Barcelona – then the best side in the world – in 2011, the English media kept praising his performance and he has never quite developed since then. Granted, he has only very recently turned 23 years of age, but he is still maturing as a player and yet to find his true potential.
It will be argued by some that Harry Kane should be in the England Under -21 squad for the summer Championships. Spain, the 2010 World Champions and 2008 and 2012 European Champions, play the best players they possibly can when playing under-21 matches. Be that Isco, Jese or David De Gea.
England should think about doing the same. It galvanises the squad since success is never a bad thing. If the Three Lions play their best squad, and end up winning, then it would bring a lot of confidence to the camp. This would be great for the long-term future of the nation’s game and it is something that needs addressing.
If, and it does seem a current possibility, Tottenham finish in 4th position, then they will have to strengthen their squad. This means that the Kane will have to do impress Pochettino over the next few months as he won’t be the club’s only capable striker for long – Spurs will undoubtedly dip into the transfer market at some stage in the near future.
For the time being, all Kane can do this season is score, assist and keep playing regularly in both the Premier and the Europa League. Perhaps he may go on a long goal drought, but even if this happens, it is clear that he has both the potential and the ability to progress and be an England international for the next decade or so.