How Harry Kane has gone from England spearhead to link man
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At the heart of Englands blossoming as an attacking force, which found its thrilling expression in Fridays 5-0 win over the Czech Republic, lies a curious anomaly.
Not since Wayne Rooney announced himself on the world stage at Euro 2004 has there been such excitement about the potency of forward talent in the national team set-up.
Yet all this while Harry Kane, who has scored more international goals than the rest of the current squad combined, is experiencing perhaps his least productive spell in an England shirt.
Least productive, that is, if measured purely by the number of goals that the Tottenham striker has scored, which amounts to two in his last nine appearances.
Remove penalties, such as the one he scored at Wembley against the Czechs, from the equation and the statistics look even less flattering: just one goal in his last 10 games for England.
Of his last five goals, four have come from the spot. Put another way, going into Mondays Euro 2020 qualifier in Montenegro, Kane has a solitary goal from open play in his last 15 hours of international football.
That is not to say Kane is playing badly for his country, however. He remains a cornerstone of Gareth Southgates young team, but it does appear his role is changing.
Rather than operating at the tip of the attack, he has taken to dropping deeper to receive the ball and play in team-mates who exploit the space he has created.
The opening goal on Friday was a perfect example: Kane dragged defenders out of position before releasing Jadon Sancho, whose low centre was converted on the stretch by Raheem Sterling.
We saw signs of this change at last summers World Cup, where Kane managed to score six times and win the Golden Boot while still spending much of the tournament coming short to pick up possession.
Hold-up play and passing are under-appreciated aspects of his game – an inevitable consequence of his otherwise relentless goalscoring – but he is increasingly effective in them too.
When England blitzed Spain in October, Kane set up two goals and was involved in the build-up for the other. Indeed, he has as many assists in his last three internationals as in his previous 33.
Given the array of fleet-footed attackers at Southgates disposal, it makes sense for a player of Kanes vision to be loading the bullets for Sterling, Sancho, Marcus Rashford and now Callum Hudson-Odoi.
On Friday it was Sterling deservedly taking the plaudits with a first international hat-trick, and perhaps the days of Kane representing Englands main goal threat are already in the past.
The roles of Kane and Sterling have been reversed. Whereas previously Sterling was seen as a No10 to Kanes old fashioned No9, now it is the Spurs man as provider to the Manchester City finisher.
Some centre-forwards might see this as a Read More – Source