Friday, 2 January 2015

Kane bringing love back to the lane

A stubborn manager sacked.  An egomaniac appointed.  Getting humiliated by the better sides in the league.  2013-2014 was a season to forget for Spurs fans.

Dis-interest was at an all time high in the summer.  Mauricio Pochettino may have been appointed, but just as manager's previous to him he was not backed in the transfer market by chairman Daniel Levy.  Pochettino wanted Schneiderlin, he got Stambouli.  Pochettino wanted Musacchio, he got Fazio.  The manager was already learning the Tottenham way.  The brochure you receive when you're appointed manager, does not tell the full story.  One man rules the roost at White Hart Lane, and his name is Levy.

Tottenham fans had been feeling disconnected from the club.  Since the retirement of club legend Ledley King, and the departures of Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson, there was no-one in the team you could really like.  No-one was a Tottenham man.  Since the sale of Bale, the squad had been filled with average foreigners bought by an out of touch Director of Football.  Supporters felt that the two world class players in the side (Lloris and Vertonghen) would move on once Levy received a good enough offer from abroad.  Also we've had season ticket holders selling their tickets on Stubhub at extortionate rates to their own fans.  Tottenham weren't likeable at the start of the season.  For long suffering supporters it was hard to raise some optimism.

Spurs went into the season with only three first choice forwards; the enigmatic Emanuel Adebayor, the frustrating Roberto Soldado and the rawness of Harry Kane.  Pochettino started the league campaign alternating Adebayor and Soldado.
Neither of them impressed as Spurs started the season off slowly, struggling to adapt to the new manager's tactics.
Whilst Adebayor and Soldado were spluttering in the Premier League, Harry Kane was given a chance to impress in the Europa League.  Kane scored in both legs of the qualifying game against AEL, but it was on the 23rd October at home to Asteras Tripolis that he starred.  Whilst Erik Lamela grabbed the headlines with his outrageous rabona goal, Kane scored a hat-trick and ended up in goal! Harry scored a long range drive, a poacher's tap-in and a strong header from a cross.  Then once Hugo Lloris was sent off, Kane volunteered to go in goal.  He then proceeded to let in an incredibly soft goal, but in that match Harry Kane had put the smile back on the Tottenham fans faces.

Pochettino was still reluctant to hand Kane a starting role in the league, and persevered with Adebayor and Soldado.  However their performances were bordering on the shambolic, especially Adebayor's away to Aston Villa.  It was a horror show from a professional centre forward.  He was hauled off after an hour, and Kane was introduced.  Spurs were one-nil down, and not playing particularly well.  Did his introduction galvanise the side?  Not overly, but Spurs now had someone up front who was at least prepared to run for the ball, and chase lost causes.  Chadli equalised for Spurs with five minutes to go, and Spurs pressed for the winner.  They won a free kick 25yards out from goal.  Kane showing the confidence of youth, grabbed the ball and said I'll have it.  It wasn't the greatest hit free kick, but it deflected off the wall and went in. It was delirium in the Spurs end.  Fans who had endured one drab performance after another, had a moment of pure joy.  Hell it wasn't like winning a cup or beating Arsenal, but for that minute after the goal it was exhilarating.  Kane was putting the fun back into supporting Spurs.

Harry Kane was back on Europa League duty after his Premier League cameo, and he scored again in the return fixture against Asteras.  He had to start in the following game against Stoke in the Premier League.  He did.  Spurs lost, and stunk the joint out at White Hart Lane.  However this game is epochal in Tottenham's season.  Mauricio Pochettino realised that players like Younes Kaboul, Etienne Capoue and Emanuel Adebayor had had plenty of opportunities to adapt to his style of play. Whether it was down to laziness, or lack of ability these players were dropped, and a new Spurs was rising, led by a young man from Chingford.
Integral to this new Spurs as well were young midfielders Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb, both who had come through the youth academy.  Players who were prepared to bust a gut for the shirt.  They were keen to impress, and their performances were putting shame to players like Dembele and Paulinho's earlier in the season.  Spurs were hungry, they were hunting the ball in packs, and this was spearheaded from the front by Kane.
Tottenham pressed and harried their way to an important home victory against Everton.  The side covered more ground in that win, than any other side in the Premier League.  Pochettino's methods were slowly taking shape, and his double training sessions were beginning to pay off.  Spurs were finishing games strongly, and scoring last minute winners at Hull and Swansea. (Kane scored in both games)

In the Christmas period, it all finally came together.  Spurs breezed past Newcastle in the quarter finals of the League Cup, trouncing them 4-0.  Kane again scoring.  They then ground out victories at home to Burnley, then away to Leicester.  In years gone by, Spurs would have dropped points in these matches.  But with Kane running himself into the ground up front, you always felt Spurs could keep on going till the final whistle.

Whilst Spurs had impressed, they had not played well against any of the bigger sides in the league. They would be tested, by playing Manchester United and Chelsea at home over the New Year period. Against Manchester United, Spurs were second best for an hour.  However this new found resilience which had appeared in the side since mid November, saw them fight and scrap Manchester United for a well earned point.  It can be said that if the game went on for ten more minutes, Spurs would have found a winner.  Again their fitness regime was reaping benefits.

New Year's Day 2015, and Chelsea rolled into town.  Chelsea's defence prior to this match had conceded three goals in eight games.  Pundits were predicting a tight cagey affair, which Chelsea would eventually win.
Harry Kane ripped up that script, and was sensational.   He scored two great goals, and harassed and harried the best defence in the Premier League.  His performance was compared to Shearer, Sheringham, Klinsmann and Henry! Whilst he has a way to go to get to those levels, his performance was the best centre forward display I have since at White Hart Lane, since Dimitar Berbatov decided to play against Bolton on his own in 2007.

Harry Kane has put the fun back into supporting Spurs.  Fans are genuinely looking forward to matches now, and not having meltdowns after the team is announced on Twitter.  His performances have put a smile on every Spurs supporters face.  You can see Kane loves playing for Spurs, and we love watching him play for Spurs.  Long may it continue.

"He's one of our own
He's one of our own
Harry Kane he's one of our own"

Chris Clark © 2015    @Chrisclark1975

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