It might be a slightly forced and tongue-in-cheek analogy, but the way Spurs fans now refer to Harry Kane as Hurricane illustrates the force with which the striker’s emergence this season has been felt.
Indeed, Kane has been the breakout star at White Hart Lane this season, scoring seven goals in his last eight games to bring his tally for the season to 17 and sparking a run of form that has seen the club put themselves firmly into top-four contention.
In fact, Kane has been so impressive this season that he has now come to define Spurs as a team, with the club’s talented squad now playing to the strengths of their in-form frontman.
That might now be to Spurs’ detriment, though. “We always need to have a good performance from the team. But it is true that Harry in the last few months, in the last games, has been an important player for us. But I think Tottenham as a team is not only one player,” said manager Mauricio Pochettino after the recent defeat to Crystal Palace, as per Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror.
Kane’s emergence as a an exceptional striker has given Spurs the frontman they lacked so desperately last season, giving midfield creators like Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli an outlet to hit when going forward.
However, to classify Kane as little more than a target man would be unfair. The 21-year-old is as effective on the ground as he is in the air, bringing others into the game with his feet as much as he does with his upper body.
He is streetwise and knows how to force a defender toward their own goal. And what’s more, Kane is something of a natural finisher, giving Spurs the cutting edge that £23 million signing Roberto Soldado was meant to last season.
So is Kane the best striker England has right now? Probably not—Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge are still naturally better players—but Kane can claim to be the most in-form English striker at present.
Thus it seems peculiar that the Spurs forward has yet to receive a call-up to the national team, despite Roy Hodgson taking a hard look at him on more than one occasion this season. What more does the England manager need to see?
“Harry is one of those players—Andros Townsend being another one—who didn’t exactly burst on to the scene in his club side and get straight in,” Hodgson recently explained, as per Daniel Taylor of the Guardian. “Harry has come on leaps and bounds and I’m not surprised because I know [the former coaches] Tim Sherwood and Les Ferdinand very well.”
It seems likely that Kane will indeed be included in Hodgson’s squad for the Euro 2016 qualifiers against Lithuania and Italy in March. Kane will give England another option in attack, and with qualification all but assured, Hodgson would be wise to induct the Spurs man into his team ahead of the tournament itself.
Such a discussion would have seemed far-fetched at the start of the season, but Kane has grown accustomed to proving his doubters wrong. While Kane is now the focal point of Spurs’ attack, Pochettino took some persuading in the early stages of the season.
Perhaps the Argentinian saw Kane as the embodiment of Tim Sherwood’s ill-judged programme of fast-tracking youngsters who were ill-prepared for the demands of first-team Premier League football. But his Europa League form—the striker has seven goals in the competition this season—forced Pochettino’s hand, with Kane not just keeping his place but flourishing since.
Against Chelsea, one of the best defensive units in the Premier League, Kane was close to unplayable, scoring twice and winning a penalty kick. Gary Cahill and John Terry, normally dependable centre-back stalwarts, won’t suffer a more difficult match than they did at White Hart Lane that evening.
Kane might not yet boast the natural ability needed to be heralded as a complete centre-forward, but he brings a number of valuable qualities to the Spurs front line. And with every game and every goal, the White Hart Lane fans start to remove their tongues from their cheeks when calling the striker by his new nickname.