On the basis of his disciplinary record, Harry Kane is a model professional. The centre forward has only ever been sent off once in his career and that came all the way back when he was on loan at Leyton Orient. This record, however, doesn’t quite reflect the true nature of Kane’s conduct on the pitch.
The England captain has a history of petulant, and often dangerous, play. In Sunday’s North London derby, for instance, Kane was fortunate to get away with a clear forearm into the head of Gabriel Magalhaes after the ball had gone. Incredibly, the 27-year-old didn’t even receive a booking for an incident that could have seen him sent off.
Even in the post-match TV analysis, the conduct of Harry Kane went somewhat overlooked. Instead, the focus was on whether Davinson Sanchez had indeed fouled Alexandre Lacazette for the second half penalty kick and whether the decision to send off Erik Lamela was the right one.
Not much attention outside of social media has been paid to Kane’s dangerous habit of backing into opponents when they rise for an aerial ball. The Spurs forward has done this a number of times in an effort to win a freekick, demonstrating little regard for the safety of his opponent who is left to crash to the ground from a height. It’s only a matter of time until someone gets hurt.
And yet this too is largely overlooked by pundits and experts unwilling to pick up on Kane’s dangerous play. Is it because of his status as England captain that he gets away with conduct another player would surely be scrutinised for? Harry Kane, as the darling of English football, gets away with more than most.
Harry Kane is undoubtedly one of the best centre forwards in the world. The 27-year-old, who has scored 214 times in 325 appearances for Tottenham Hotspur, is up there with the likes of Karim Benzema, Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo as an elite goalscorer and so, in a sense, warrants his golden reputation. He could yet become the all-time top Premier League goalscorer and, in the eyes of many, has become the complete forward.
But this shouldn’t shield him from criticism for other areas of his game. Mohamed Salah, for instance, is widely seen as one of the best forwards in Europe, but has frequently been lambasted for going to ground too easily. Harry Kane, who is guilty of the same thing from time to time, isn’t condemned in the same way.
Some players have an internal spark that lights other aspects of their game. Wayne Rooney was one of those players. As a teenager, the former Everton and Manchester United forward frequently went over the top in some of his tackles and on-field conduct but there was a sense that this was somehow linked to his explosiveness as a footballer
When Rooney matured later in his career and succumbed to calls to calm himself, some of the spark was lost. He was no longer as exhilarating and devastating in the attacking third. Of course, some of this was down to his fading physicality, but something also changed in the mind of England’s all-time top scorer. In hindsight, Rooney should have maintained his dark side.
With Harry Kane, though, there isn’t a feeling that his prickliness is related to his performances. In fact, the petulance and dangerous play often comes when he is struggling to get into the game, as was the case in the North London derby defeat to Arsenal on Sunday. Unlike Rooney, Kane would be better for cutting off this side of his game. He should do so before referees start noticing more than just his goals.
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