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CHRIS SUTTON: Harry Kane is not indispensable! England captain looked lost against Hungary


CHRIS SUTTON: Harry Kane is NOT indispensable! The England captain looked lost with just 21 strikes to Hungary – he has to come out of his mind for both club and country

  • For 76 minutes against Hungary, Harry Kane from England was the definition of lost
  • England boss Gareth Southgate decided he’d seen enough and he was hooked
  • When it comes down to it, the Spurs attacker isn’t inseparable – no striker is!
  • If one of his English rivals makes a silly run of goals, then what?

Ultimately, no search crew was needed, but England staff must have been tempted to deploy one when Harry Kane’s number was held up at Wembley Stadium.

For 76 minutes, the Tottenham striker was the definition of lost. He made only 21 touches and had zero joy against Hungary’s three-man defence. So Gareth Southgate decided he’d seen enough – it was time to hook the captain.

That could be taken as a warning. When it comes down to it, Kane is not unbeatable. That’s not a striker. If you don’t score goals and someone else does, he deserves his shot over you.

Gareth Southgate replaced captain Harry Kane after an unimpressive showing on Tuesday

Kane said after the game on Tuesday: “I know there has been a lot of talk about me, but in the end I still scored nine goals this season.”

True. But if you break that down, being on the brink of double digits loses its impact. Three of those goals came for Tottenham against Mura in the Europa Conference League, with two against Pacos Ferreira in the same competition. One came against Wolves in the Carabao Cup and three for England in the September Internationals.

You get criticized in the Premier League. The best players are judged there. Kane must come out of his slump if he is to remain as his country’s undisputed first-choice under Southgate. Right now the backups are not knocking on the door.

Tammy Abraham is with Roma and scores intermittently. Ollie Watkins is on one target this season. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is still coming back from injury. Marcus Rashford nears his first appearance of the campaign.

But suppose Kane continues to struggle during this campaign and one of his competitors goes crazy scoring, then what?

If one of his English rivals up front makes a crazy run of goals, then what about Kane?

If one of his English rivals up front makes a crazy run of goals, then what about Kane?

You can’t live on your reputation forever. This is football. It’s about results. Kane must rediscover his scoring touch if he is to remain untouchable.

This isn’t to say that Kane the Killer won’t be back. You may remember Wayne Rooney’s dip in form after he came close to Manchester United in 2010 when Pep Guardiola wanted him at Barcelona.

Rooney himself has said he couldn’t help but see himself at the head of that team. “I remember sitting one day and thinking, ‘Imagine playing in that Barcelona team – Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets”. I could have fit in perfectly.’

Rooney eventually stayed with United, but scored just 11 Premier League goals in 2010-11, 16 in all competitions. However, he bounced back. In 2011-12 he scored 27 in the league, 34 in total.

Kane went through something similar. Guardiola wanted him at Manchester City and he must have imagined taking the chances of Kevin De Bruyne and Co.

Kane’s unsatisfactory season in a Tottenham shirt is no secret. It doesn’t help that he now has a manager in Nuno Espirito Santo whose playing style isn’t the most attacking. We thought it would be fine if he was in the England shirt. He is the striker chasing Rooney’s competitive international goalscoring record.

His unsatisfactory season in a Spurs shirt is no secret after he wanted to leave in the summer

His unsatisfactory season in a Spurs shirt is no secret after he wanted to leave in the summer

But Kane’s performance against Hungary was worrying. We could attribute his lack of touch to the fact that the Hungarians were deep and had three middle halves that choked him. But it was disappointing to see him look so disinterested.

Rumor has it that he was not the most jovial on the Spurs training ground. But he has to stop sulking. Every striker goes through periods when the ball does not go in. You have to persevere and Kane has to fight.

He has a fine record at Newcastle – two goals last season and the same the season before. The Spurs play there on Sunday. Even if he’s not happy, Kane has to suck it up and get back to doing what he does best.



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