As Harry Kane pulled away from Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte to create space for Son Heung-min’s opener for Tottenham against Manchester City, my housemate marvelled: “Wow, it’s like Kane was a black hole or something.”
A rather curious statement as he was slightly intoxicated at the time (it’s lockdown on a Saturday night), but it described the situation perfectly. Kane just sucked City’s centre-backs out of harm’s way to give Son the freedom of north London to stick it under Ederson, and the visitors were never able to recover.
Ironically, The Independent reported last week that Pep Guardiola asked the board during contract negotiations to pursue Kane’s signing, but now Spurs now sit atop the Premier League table for more than a few hours for the first time since the second week of the 2014/15 season. More impressively, noted Spurs critic Jack Gallagher even commented in our Slack chat this morning that this win was the ‘best performance by a Premier League team this season’. What a difference a few months make.
Jude Summerfield wrote yesterday about Jose Mourinho’s story arc evolving from brooding gothic villain to Hotspur hero in a matter of weeks. It wasn’t necessarily a walk-back because football changes and those criticisms were totally valid at the time, much like mine were about Kane at the start of 2020. He wasn’t shooting as much, he wasn’t scoring as much, he wasn’t available as much, and I prefer my strikers to be fit and firing, alright?
After two pre-seasons in the span of a few months, Kane has overcome his slight dip in form and fitness to explode, as Mourinho promised in Tottenham’s ‘All or Nothing’ Amazon Prime documentary, back into one of the world’s best players.
If Kane was the complete striker before, then he’s hacked and jailbroken the forward system now. Looking at his stats this season (via FBRef), he leads the league in assists (9), goal contributions (16), shots (35) and through balls (9), while also ranking fifth in goals (7), sixth in key passes (19), and second in – wait for it – nutmegs (3)! Kane has simply been the most effective player in the Premier League this year, so why should his second peak stop here?
There’s even a different gravity about Kane off the pitch now, too. Remember that week at the start of November where he was panned for winning a penalty off of Adam Lallana jumping on top of him? Come on, that’s just playing into Mourinho’s siege-mentality mindset (keep doing it please, it’s working).
It’s not as if Kane was lacking a slightly villainous chip-on-his-shoulder edge to his game before – he literally swore on his daughter’s life that he scored that goal against Stoke in 2018 and is a well-known ‘winner’ of penalties – but everything else is clicking for him too. Kane’s game has never been so multi-faceted, one of the most threatening players on the planet with or without the ball.
Mourinho has worked with Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, Diego Costa, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku, yet Kane 2.0 is probably his ideal striker, not least because the idea of him is as good as the actual player. All that’s left is to stack his CV, and breaking the duck of a club like Tottenham would be more impressive than just another trophy at a super club.
Kane has often smashed career milestones like it’s a checklist. Break into the Spurs team? Check. Prove to be more than a tap-in merchant? Check. Become the main man? Check. Start for England? Check. Win the golden boot? Check. Become the best striker in the world? Check (dated: 2018). Overcome injury woes? Check.
And so, Kane’s new list: win a trophy, become the best striker in the world again, break Tottenham’s all-time goalscoring record, break the Premier League’s all-time goalscoring record, become the best player in Spurs’ history. Set the over/under on completing these at 4.5, and I’m placing a big fat bet on the over.
Fitness is the only thing that should stand between himself and these glory glories. He’s 110 goals off of Alan Shearer’s Premier League record, just 65 off of Jimmy Greaves’ Spurs record, and you can bet he has his eyes on Glenn Hoddle’s lilywhite crown. Football changes, but this is a yardstick in time – Kane is definitely capable of achieving these feats.