England’s best striker being managed by one of the best managers ever. What could possibly go wrong?
Since Jose Mourinho was appointed as manager of Tottenham Hotspur on November 20th 2019, Harry Kane has played 11 games. He missed a huge chunk of the season after picking up yet another injury and returned to action against Manchester United last Friday night in their 1-1 draw.
In those 11 games Kane has scored 7 goals and picked up 1 assist, meaning only Heung-Min Son has scored more goals than him since Mourinho’s arrival with 9. Those 9 goals however have come in 18 games under Jose.
Friday night’s performance against Manchester United got a lot of people talking though. With Spurs defending for large chunks of the game and relying on individual magic from Steven Bergwijn to get their goal, Harry Kane cut an isolated figure up front. He didn’t look match-fit, he looked sluggish and he didn’t look as powerful physically as he usually does.
Reasons for this are easily explained, with no football for the last three months for anyone but you need to add an extra three months to Kane’s total considering he hasn’t featured since New Year’s Day. But it’s also a sign that his body isn’t what it once was.
Kane has suffered several injuries over the last few years, especially to his ankle ligaments. In fact, you have to go back to four seasons ago when he didn’t last injure his ankle in a season. This injury was a ruptured thigh muscle though, not his ankle. So further muscle issues will always be a risk going forward, similarly to how Michael Owen’s hamstring injury at age 19 plagued him throughout the rest of his career.
Kane’s lack of influence in the game against Manchester United led people to ask how strikers can succeed under Mourinho, who’s philosophy has always been to not lose first, rather than win first. The criticism of Mourinho and strikers brought the manager out firing in his press conference yesterday, as he came with a stat sheet to fight the claims.
He hilariously got the numbers wrong RE Didier Drogba, stating the striker had scored 186 goals under him when in actual fact he had made 186 appearances – scoring 73 goals. Mourinho did have a point though. Romelu Lukaku scored 27 goals in his debut Manchester United season under Mourinho, Diego Milito scored 30 goals in 52 games at Inter Milan under him and Cristiano Ronaldo scored an insane 168 goals in 164 games over three seasons at Real Madrid with Jose.
He knows how to get goals from his top players and he usually heavily relies on one player to be his main goal supply. In Harry Kane, he has someone who would usually thrive on a situation like that. But Harry Kane is not the same Harry Kane anymore.
He’s not as powerful, he’s not as ruthless and he doesn’t get into the positions he once did. Since the start of the 2018/19 season, Kane has scored 28 league goals in 50 league games for Spurs. That’s less than he scored in the season before that on its own, where he scored 30 goals in 37 games. Just the eye-test alone shows you that he’s not what he once was.
There’s no reason to believe that Kane and Mourinho can’t form a phenomenal partnership that leads to goals and eventually trophies for Spurs. But Mourinho may need to be a bit more careful about his approach and Kane may need to appreciate that his body can no longer do what it used to do to the same level.