Harry Kane scoring goals was all just an elaborate bluff to set up this one pass
For years, the sight of Harry Kane in a No.10 shirt, rather than a No.9, felt a bit off. Now, though, we understand completely.
Kane has forever been a top line-leading forward, but in Tottenham’s victory over Leicester City he showed much greater depth.
While there’s no rush for Spurs to spend big on a new finisher just so they can use the England captain as his supply line, maybe we shouldn’t rule it out.
There were two standout Kane passes against Leicester, and you probably remember at least one of them.
It was his outside-of-the-boot ball which set Son Heung-min free in the build-up to his team’s opener, the kind of shaped pass delivered with such accuracy it feels like he’s taken out a compass to map out the arc.
Coaches will often tell you to keep moving rather than sitting back and admiring your pass, but in this instance it almost feels disrespectful of Kane to keep going.
Hopefully next time he’ll show his own handiwork the deference it warrants.
The second ball – the one without an end product – might have been even more indicative of Kane’s evolving role.
In the past, one might have expected him to offload the ball primarily so he could receive it back in a more advantageous position, but this was a case of Kane the creator above all else.
He spots Son’s run and recognises the kind of run he might be making himself in a comparable situation but only plays the ball through once he’s certain his team-mate is on the same wavelength as him.
It turns out if you’ve spent years narrowing your field of vision to become a top goalscorer, there are still new frontiers left for you to explore simply by taking a second or two to look around.
Sure, it might slow the more instinctive part of your mind, but when this is the result does it matter that much? And, of course, the quality of Kane’s double earlier in the game suggests this range of passing is a supplement, rather than it being either/or.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Kane show what he can do while creating for others, but it’s rare to see him enjoy this aspect of his game so much.
In fact, that second pass was so good that you have to wonder if the 203 club goals he has scored were all just an elaborate bluff to get to the point of being able to make this pass without anyone realising he was capable of it.
We actually wrote about Kane the brilliant playmaker more than a year ago, but the clever bastard has continued to score goals at such a ridiculous rate that he’s kept the element of surprise. We await to find out if the cat is out of the bag.
You see, one of the greatest challenges of top-level football is making the most of changes – both subtle and significant – before your opponents have figured out a way to deal with them.
This applies to individual games, capitalising on weak spots before an opposing coach changes shape or makes a substitution, but also for long stretches where no rival has adapted to a player’s modus operandi changing.
Spurs are the poker player sat at the casino at 3am, having spotted the leaks in their rival’s game and running over the table before anyone cottons on to their change of pace.
They can’t leave just yet, or else they’d be leaving money on the table, but equally they need to be alert to when the rest of the table has noticed and it ceases to be profitable.
Jose Mourinho’s side need to make as much money as they can when the going’s good, using Kane the playmaker to create and create when his opponents still expect the default of self-interest.
Once we pass that point, the challenge will be finding another creative gear. Based on what we saw against Leicester, that won’t be difficult.
By Tom Victor