It’s the turn of Harry Kane to become the great hope for English football. There are some reasons for optimism, notably the way he made a Chelsea defence look decidedly Championship grade and blow a hole in the argument that Mourinho teams never conceded four..sorry, five goals. But is he this year’s Townsend? Just wind the clock back a year or more and recall the way Tottenham’s Andros Townsend was being championed. Admittedly, injuries played their part, but the 23 year-old Leytonstone lad is no longer being seen as the standard bearer for the three lions.
Kane, like Townsend, has led a nomadic existence as a Spurs player. While Townsend spent 2009 to 2013 out on loan at almost 10% of the Football League, Kane (two years younger than Townsend) has endured four loan spells – at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester City. And when Spurs were eyeing Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez a few months ago, there was talk about Kane or Townsend being used as bait.
It shows how a player’s fortunes can change. In 2012-13, nobody really expected Townsend to win an England cap by September 2013. That he did was largely on the strength of some good performances at the start of 2013-14 and, in particular, a lightning display in Tbilisi in the Europa League. He scored in Georgia, but in 2013-14, he netted just twice in 33 league and cup games. He won four caps and scored one goal, but injuries kept him out of the World Cup squad. Since then, Townsend has been linked with a move away from White Hart Lane, and he’s publically stated he wants to stay with Spurs. Which means he will be on his way soon, suggest the cynics.
Kane, meanwhile, has a name that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Guy Ritchie movie about London’s underworld. He comes from Chingford, the home of Essex man made good. He was earmarked as one to watch as a teenager and he has often been mentioned in discussions about the future of English football. And he is already being compared to a number of footballing luminaries. Unsurprisingly, he is being benchmarked against Gareth Bale, who is rapidly becoming one of Britain’s most successful exports. It’s a little unkind given Bale’s massive contribution to Spurs in 2012-13 (21 goals in 33 Premier games) and his market value – the “red tops” are suggesting Manchester United are ready to pay £ 120m to bring him back from Spain.
Kane has scored 17 goals in 25 league and cup games this season, but 10 of those have come in the League Cup and Europa League. Spurs are desperate for a new talisman and Kane could well become that man – as long as a bucketful of euros doesn’t get dangled in front of the Tottenham politburo. We may well end up watching him on Revista De La Liga, but Spurs need to get a couple of good, consistent years out of the youngster before that happens, and maybe a trophy. His currency also has to appreciate before Spurs can net a hefty fee from the Nou Camp, Bernebeu, Parc de Princes or the Alianz.
He also has to make the breakthrough at international level and given the dearth of talent available to Uncle Roy, that may happen very soon. His record at Under-21 level is impressive, with 13 goals in 12 appearances.
Kane’s recent displays indicate that his star is finally in the ascendancy. His 90-minute show against Chelsea had people drawing comparisons with a host of big names: Gazza (let’s hope not), Teddy Sheringham, Sergio Aguero and Thomas Mueller. Gary Lineker, he of the greying beard and penchant for potato crisps, predicted Kane could become a Tottenham great. You can always count on football to get carried away with itself, but there’s no denying the lad’s got talent. Spurs will have to manage him well and allow Kane to blossom in the second half of the season. With any luck, they will get some mileage out of him before he’s tempted away from White Hart Lane.