England may be wasting Harry Kane’s talents.
The Three Lions skipper, naturally, scored again as Gareth Southgate’s men thumped Montenegro 5-1 in Podgorica on Monday evening, tapping in after a pin-point Raheem Sterling cross.
It was a goal that the Tottenham Hotspur star has scored numerous times before. He kept up with his winger, utilising his deceptive pace, and finished with unerring precision. His strike was England’s fourth of the night; he also scored the second from the penalty spot on Friday as Southgate’s side strolled to a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic at Wembley.
On Monday, however, it was not Kane’s strike that grabbed the attention. He scored, that’s what he does, but he’s a more complete forward than many give him credit for.
He is perhaps England’s best passer of the ball too. It may sound ridiculous to suggest but he is fantastic at taking a ball in and spraying it accurately, leading to an opportunity, both at club and international level.
He can drop deep, hold off the defender, and move the ball with the equivalent accuracy as to his finishing.
Yet, against Montenegro, he cut an isolated figure. Sterling and the impressive Callum Hudson-Odoi, making his first start in an England shirt, flanked him.
But, per WhoScored, Kane touched the ball just 24 times, fewer than any other outfield player on the pitch. Dele Alli, the England player next in line, touched the ball 48 times, exactly double. Sterling and Hudson-Odoi, by comparison, had 82 and 79 touches respectively.
That Kane managed to play two key passes is to his immense credit and that he scored even more so; there are few players within the national team setup who could make so much of so little. Indeed, his goal came from his only shot while he made a total of 15 passes in all.
This is a player who is far more than a goalscorer. He is not a poacher, instead, he is perhaps the most complete striker England have produced in a generation. He is more instinctive and a better finisher than Wayne Rooney ever was and is also more physical and tactically aware than the likes of Michael Owen and Jermain Defoe. He can also pass the ball as well as the likes of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.
But he is not being utilised correctly. It is not to the detriment of England’s attacking play, amazingly. Southgate has set up a system that allows pacey, skilful wingers to thrive.
Kane, in that regard, is perhaps too unselfish. He is all too willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the team.
Southgate, of course, holds him in the highest esteem. If he didn’t, Kane would not have the captain’s armband.
But, on recent evidence, it is fair to assume that the England boss, who has got so much right, does not quite know how to bring the very best out of him.