There is an epidemic spreading through the nation. All across the land, people are singing the praises of Tottenham forward Harry Kane. Even the England manager has fallen victim to this Kane fever, branding him the future of the national team’s attack. Only the few who are immune can see the glaringly obvious: Harry Kane is a total fraud.
The footballing philistines raise Kane up as a throwback to the “good old days”, a “proper centre forward”. There is some truth in this; the problem lies in the fact that the standard of football was hugely worse in the days when strikers in Kane’s mould were prevalent. The old days were not good – physicality and lurking in the right place to scuff home lucky goals prevailed over technique and finesse. Nowadays most of the footballing world has moved on, but Kane is single-handedly dragging England back into the dark ages. Standing at 6”2, all he is really good for is getting on the end of crosses lumped hopefully into the box – the odd nice goal here and there blinds people to the fact that the vast majority of his strikes are extremely average. England boss Roy Hodgson, himself a relic of bygone era, loves the thought that a clumsy, stumbling forward is good enough for the Premier League and the national team. If he ploughs ahead with his plan to make Kane the bedrock of England over the coming years, it won’t be long before we collapse into total footballing obscurity. Wales, a side with literally only one good player, this year overtook England in the world rankings – short of time travelling back to the 1970s, the only way the national team will start winning regularly once more is to ditch Kane immediately.
“But what about his goal record?”, I hear you cry. In short, it is irrelevant. His surprisingly good figures in 2014/15 do not change the fact that, in terms of his ability, he would be at home in the Vanarama Conference. Prior to the start of that campaign the Tottenham management were trying (and failing) to get him a loan at a League 1 side – his unlikely rise to stardom is not a success story, but a damning indictment of the current state of top flight English football. All he has done is pounce on defensive errors, carried along on a wave of misplaced self-belief to a total of 21 Premier League goals. His start to the new season demonstrates this fact – he took a massive 748 minutes to find the net, and followed up the breaking of his duck with a spectacularly poor own goal. This gave me hope – slowly, the world was coming to terms with the fact that Kane must be a fraud. However, disaster soon struck. A typically clumsy hattrick against Bournemouth infected the nation once more with Kane fever. All three goals were direct results of goalkeeper Artur Boruc making dreadful mistakes, but the newspapers didn’t care. No, Kane once again became “Rooney’s natural successor for England”. To be fair, this is a title I would agree with: Rooney also rarely scores, with a meagre one goal to his name in World Cup competitions, and has been living off one half-decent bicycle kick he scored almost half a decade ago.
The article about Rooney, however, is one for another day. The matter in hand is Harry Kane, the biggest fraud the Premier League has seen since its inception. Djimi Traore, Paul Konchesky and Khalid Boulahrouz all pale in comparison – at least they have been remembered as bad, whereas Kane is building an undeserved reputation for competence. Did he finish as the second highest goal scorer last season? Yes, but one prolific season does not make a good striker. Even if we were to (wrongly) accept that scoring lots of goals must make him good, there is no evidence to suggest that he can sustain his freakish form. Michu set the league on fire in 2012/13 and was widely considered to be the next big thing: just two short seasons later he is festering in the Swansea reserves, seemingly with no future at the top level. Roque Santa Cruz played immensely well for Blackburn, firing them into 7th place, but quickly faded into obscurity. This list goes on: Amr Zaki, Michael Ricketts, Benny McCarthy, Andy Johnson, Benjani… one good season is not a guarantee of lasting success. Some of the players in this category even possessed a fair amount of skill: it would be a catastrophic injustice if gormless, talentless Kane managed to forge a successful Premier League career whilst Benjani, full of flair and personality, is consigned to the “one season wonders” pile.
I can only imagine how much other nations are laughing at us right now. Roy ‘the owl’ Hodgson has earmarked Kane as the future, and defences can rest in the knowledge that England will not be troubling them for another decade or so. There is simply no justification for making Kane a feature of the national team – Walcott could be played up front, with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Townsend (who also isn’t very good, but we have to work with what we’ve got) playing down the flanks instead. Sterling has been known to feature at club level as a false 9; his finishing undoubtedly needs some work, but he poses far more problems to defences than Kane. Even Sturridge in a wheelchair would probably be more effective than the Tottenham man.
Stop making excuses for Kane. The fact of the matter is that a player does not inexplicably go from unwanted in League 1 to world class in the space of a year for no good reason, and anyone who believes otherwise is delusional. If we do accept that Kane is the best England has to offer in the striking department, mediocrity will become the norm. It’s not too late, but it will be soon. Fight back against Kane fever, or before long it will kill English football at club and national levels.