With Harry Kane being the first Englishman to claim the Golden Boot in the EPL since Kevin Phillips there was always going to be fabulous hype surrounding the Tottenham man going into the Euros. We’ve heard he’s a hybrid of Teddy Sheringham and Alan Shearer and he’s been touted as one of the most feared forwards in the world going into the competition. On the basis of his play against Russia, however, opposition defenses will be more worried about his corner kicks than his contributions during open play.
At the risk of sounding a bit knee-jerk, Kane failed his “I’m a top class forward” audition today. We can argue that Roy’s decision to change his expected system didn’t help Kane but the fact remains that outside of his bizarre corner kick duty he struggled to have any impact on the game.
For the most part, especially the entirety of the first half, England looked a dangerous, fluid unit capable of creating chances and scoring goals. Rooney had his best game in an England shirt for years and the likes of Lallana, Sterling, and Alli found space to exploit frequently. The only drawback was that despite these impressive performances there seemed to be no connection between Kane and the men behind him. Odd considering the link he and Alli have built up this season. Kane was simply not able to provide the type of hold up and link play England needed today and they clearly suffered for it.
Over the course of the game Kane managed 33 touches on the ball (6 of those being from corners) yet none of them occurred in the opposition box, effectively gifting Vasili Berezutski and Sergei Ignashevich a hassle free experience from their opposing forward. He displayed none of the dangerous movement or shooting we’ve become accustomed to over the last two seasons. His only looks on goal saw two efforts fly into the crowd. In short, his decision making on and off the ball was poor. In fact, the best decision he made all game was to allow Eric Dier to hit the free kick that he scored.
The fact that Kane completed the game suggests that barring a strange or unfortunate change of events he will remain as England’s lone forward for the clash with Wales. A repeat of today’s performance will add more fuel to the fires of his detractors and with the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford waiting in reserve he will know Roy has a fair few options to throw in. We have come to expect more from Kane and against Wales it’s time for him to deliver.