Harry Kane’s first season in the Spurs first team has been a remarkable success. Given his chance by a manager who believes in him, he’s transformed both his own prospects as an outstanding young English forward and those of the team. He’s become indispensable.
Now he faces his biggest challenge yet, overcoming the weight of expectation. Spurs expects: he scores them, he makes them. Supporters have presented him with the ultimate accolade that any crowd anywhere in the world can bestow: Harry Kane is one of our own. There’s no higher complement from the people who truly matter, the fans.
He deserves it. He’s exceeded all expectations so far, even I suspect his own. Many who now laud him wrote him off not so long ago. Obviously not good enough. Before starting a Premier League game, obviously. Such is the modern way. The ability to make a judgement quickly is more important than its accuracy.
Footballers need time to mature. Always been that way, always will be, except let’s ignore all that because we’re modern and the ‘now’ generation allows no one any time. Success has been the undoing of many a young player over the years. Players who burst onto the scene, they’ve got it all but to the unwary choice can be the enemy of the indecisive. In the first flush, it’s all natural, unthinking, instinct. Then there’s a fraction’s delay. Shall I shoot or beat another man? I can take on anyone, except defenders suss you out. The player will many talents has to decide which one to use in any given situation, but any given defender isn’t going to give him that time.
Already there are sighs of disappointment when Kane doesn’t quite make it. The fans are not having a go at him, it’s genuine but that all puts extra pressure on a lad. Which is why I enjoyed his first goal yesterday so, so much. On the left, he shifted the ball onto his right in what is fast becoming a trademark move. The last few games, he’s missed a few. Taken an extra touch, trying to get it just right. But this boy knows what he’s about. Took no chances with this one, larruping it past Foster who was beaten by sheer pace. No messing. He’ll make it. Expectation will inspire not hamper him, just as he’s inspired us. He’s achieved a rare rapport between fans and players that we’ve seldom seen recently and remained humble almost, clear headed and feet on the ground all the while just like his mate Ryan Mason.
But yesterday’s plaudits go to Christian Eriksen, having a fine season after a slow start. Over the past five games he’s moved up another level. Now you expect something to happen whenever he’s on the ball. I’d say there’s a buzz or that your heart beats a little bit faster, except there’s no time for that. Eriksen doesn’t hang about. At his best the ball’s gone in an instant. The best creative midfielders deal in the art of the possible, the unlikely. Their clocks run fast. Paint a picture of what the game will look like in two seconds time, that’s where the ball will go.
His team-mates have cottoned on. Kane loves him. His eye for a pass is tailored for Kane’s mature movement, sliding into channels or on the half-turn with his back to goal. It’s a match made in heaven. Yesterday Rose on the overlap, instead of hanging wide and taking the orthodox (and perfectly worthwhile) pass down the line, he saw who was in possession and so veered diagonally into the box, into an area dangerous for defenders, secure in the knowledge this most difficult of passes would be delivered accurately. The ball was cleared but that’s not the point. Dump the passing stats, Eriksen is about risk, the unexpected, trying something. True creativity requires mistakes to be made. Don’t expect him to run a midfield – he’s not that type. What he is, is a matchwinner.
And I’ve not even mentioned the free-kicks. The keepers know where they are going but they can’t stop them. Another right-footer, over the wall and down. Keeper Foster thinks he’s got it but the curl means the ball just keeps on going.
That 6th minute opener was just the tonic for Spurs. Ten minutes later Kane made it two and we were well and truly on our way to the one of the best wins of the season.
Spurs spent much of the game shepherding the ball with the care and vigilance of a mother swan guarding her brood of cygnets. Mason, Paulinho and Dembele, again much more effective in an advanced starting position, assiduously kept it circulating with willing assistance from both full-backs. There were extended periods in both halves where Albion simply could not get the ball. It shows a genuine confidence in the Tottenham side that wasn’t there even a few weeks ago when we were winning.
The defending did not match this standard and whilst we had comparatively few alarms, Lloris came to the rescue on several occasions. One full-length tip-over then a superb save low to his right, the shot from point-blank range. He couldn’t reach a set-piece header – slack marking from Fazio – but the ball thumped against the bar and away. A third lightning reaction save in the second half, helped by Rose scrambling the rebound away.
Second half, any chance the Baggies had of a comeback was snuffed out by Kane’s second, a penalty harshly awarded after the ball hit Lescott’s arm as he slid across to block a cross. I love the pic above, Harry in the act of striking the ball, tongue poking out with the intense concentration of a toddler trying to complete a puzzle. Kids are totally in the moment, completely fixed on completing the task properly. I think that sums up our Harry nicely.
Seldom have Pochettino’s efforts to build a side been better evidenced than in this victory. On the ball we were organised and purposeful and if he can pull off the trick of rehabilitating Paulinho, water into wine will surely follow. The Brazilian looked eager for the first time in a year and while he relied on Mason doing much of his work for him in the first half, he played his part.