Can Tottenham's Harry Kane return to goal-scoring form in September?
It has been a difficult start to the new season for Harry Kane and he seems to be suffering from a Euro 2016 hangover. He had a poor tournament with England, failing to score a goal in France and that has damaged his confidence. Since returning to Tottenham, he has looked to be a shadow of the player that consolidated his position as one of the best young strikers in Europe over the last 12 months. Dele Alli has faced similar problems at the beginning of the 2016/17 season and Mauricio Pochettino faces a huge task to get both playing at their best again.
His lack of confidence is evident in his frequency of shooting this season. Last season, he averaged 4.2 shots per game as he was willing to take them on from even the tightest of angles, with his goal in the North London derby standing out as a shot that he had no right to attempt, let alone score. During the first three matches of the new season, Kane has averaged just 2 shots per game, which emphasises the struggles he is having mentally. The England international has been reluctant to pull the trigger, even when he finds himself in a promising position and Spurs’ cutting edge has suffered as a result.
In addition to his shooting, Kane’s passing accuracy has dropped significantly during the opening three games. This campaign, he has completed just 60.3% of his passes, compared to 73.1% last season. Although this isn’t as big of an issue as his shooting, it will be affecting his self-belief. A player in bad form concentrates closely on every aspect of their game and as a result, they get more frustrated if something does go wrong. In Kane’s case, he will know that he isn’t in the team for his passing, but when he gives the ball away, he starts to expect everything else to go wrong.
Tottenham fans will point to Kane’s start to the season last year when defending him, as he had similar problems and failed to score until the end of September. It took him seven matches, but that first goal gave him the confidence to break the 20-goal mark for the second successive season. There were critics at the time calling him a one season wonder and he made them look foolish, which is why we can’t rush to any similarly poor judgements now.
Some players are slow starters and need time to build up their match sharpness before they are able to hit top form. Kane could be an example of this. The coaching and medical staff at Tottenham will know more about Kane’s match fitness levels, which is why Pochettino’s comments about his leading striker are interesting. He has continually stated that Kane needs time and that he has no doubts about his ability to score goals this season.
The signing of Vincent Janssen should be seen as a blessing for Kane as the Englishman will now be rested on a regular basis. Over the last two years, Kane has played at two international tournaments with England and had the responsibility of being the only top level striker at White Hart Lane. This forced him to play a lot more matches than Pochettino would have liked. Kane is still only 23 and the amount of football he has played will have taken its toll on his body, which may have contributed for his current drop off in form.
Kane’s form is a concern for both club and country, but nobody should be panicking yet. Last season, he struggled during the opening months, before going on to lead Tottenham to a title challenge. He is a striker that only needs one goal to boost his confidence and return to scoring regularly. Pochettino will know that and is likely to continue playing him regardless of his contribution. Tottenham have a lot of good midfield players in the side, which means that service shouldn’t be an issue for Kane and it won’t be too long before he gets on the score-sheet once more.
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