Pascal Chimbonda, Michu, Dejan Lovren and Roque Santa Cruz. What do they all have in common? That’s right, you guessed it- the dreaded second season syndrome! Now answer this, what could they all of done with to ensure that the curse of ‘the second season syndrome’ was non-existent in their Premier League careers? A bit of a tougher question this time, but one lethal Premier League forward has paved the way for fighting through it. After Spurs walloped West Ham 4-1, Harry Kane sought to explain his reinvigorated goal-scoring ability on his “missus’ food”.
So there you have it, the cure to second season syndrome – Harry Kane’s girlfriend’s grub. Although I have no doubt that Mr Kane’s girlfriend has excellent culinary skills, I believe that other factors are at play as the young England striker begins to find his form again. It just so happens that this time the proof is not in the pudding (big apologies for that one). So what has been key to Kane’s recent return to form, and subsequently his ability to combat second season syndrome?
Coming into this campaign, there was relatively significant concern for Kane. With just two goals in the last eight of the 2014/15 season, it was felt that perhaps Harry Kane’s purple patch was starting to turn a touch grey. It took him eight matches to get off the mark, but with Kane now on eight for this season, it seems any apprehension felt was highly unnecessary. The combination of maturity, hard-work, excellent ability, a very good Spurs team surrounding him, and a wonderful manager has all added up to Kane looking ever more like the man who; come next summer, will be leading the line for England in Euro 2016.
The quality of Harry Kane was never in doubt. He is clearly an out and out goalscorer with an incredible knack of being in the right place at the right time. What could be placed under question however was whether or not he would be able to shoulder the burden of expectation thrown upon him at such a young age. The Premier League has developed a culture of over-hyping young players; especially English ones, meaning that often they are thrown into the lime-light so early on. From that moment on, each and every move is heavily scrutinised.
Furthermore if Kane were to show a second season wobble, who else would Tottenham be able to replace him with? Clinton N’Jie may be a player for the future, but certainly does not look to be a swap for Kane at this stage. Often when young players do show a dip, it is advisable to give them a small break away and bring them back reinvigorated; much like we have seen Martinez do with Ross Barkley. However, Kane looks like a 22 year old playing with the head of a 40 year old on his shoulders. He has shown excellent maturity in dealing with the pressure thrown upon him. The Premier League loves to get excited about young new talent – it is one of the defining things about the top flight in this country. Players burst onto the scene looking like they’re the next big thing and we often all agree with them immediately. Before you know it, their hot streak is over and form is now seen as nothing more than a flash in the pan. Harry Kane is an entirely different case. It is evident he has much faith in his own ability and why would he not? 31 goals last season is a hell of an achievement for a player that didn’t start featuring till November.
If second season syndrome was a virus, then Kane’s work ethic is the cure. Much of his excellent ability to deal with the pressure of continuing where he left off last year has to do with his incredible work rate. During his drought at the start of this season, Kane was still running more than any other Premier League forward. This young Spurs starlet has passion and a work ethic that is second to none. Combining that with his love for playing for his boyhood team, results in you getting a guy that must be a nightmare for centre-halves to play against.
It must also be said however that Tottenham in general must be a horrible proposition for opponents this campaign. It took until their ninth game when they faced Liverpool for a team to outrun Spurs. Pochettino’s young squad look so unlike their predecessors nowadays (that’s a compliment by the way), in their assured and confident approach to matches The Tottenham that need to be 4-0 up with 5 minutes to go until fans feel comfortable seems long gone now. It is not too far-fetched to say that they look ever more like a team that could challenge for the league title. They do not play another top four team until mid-February, with 13 games in between and if Spurs can get themselves into a good position coming into that game against City, then it may hold much greater significance than anyone anticipated at the start of this season. This excellent run Spurs are on has resulted in Kane not only having a great bunch of players around him to help continue last year’s form, but it also eased the pressure on him when he wasn’t scoring. If Tottenham started this season badly and Kane was not hitting the back of the net, then you can bet your bottom dollar there would be more question marks raised about his ability to replicate last season’s goal-scoring extravaganza.
The wonderful thing about the Harry Kane story is that no one really expected it. Out of nowhere somebody that epitomises everything we love about English football (hard-working, great attitude, direct and exciting to watch), was thrown into the spotlight and since then, we have all watched, hoped and prayed he would continue to be the footballing golden boy on these shores. So far, he has certainly not let anyone down, so please Harry, just keep doing what you’re doing.
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