England manager Gareth Southgate believes Harry Kane’s underwhelming Tottenham form is at least partly down to upheaval and “changes” at the club, something he has not had to contend with at the international level.
Kane finished 2020-21 with more Premier League goals (23) and assists (14) than any other player, becoming the first to top both charts in a single season since Andy Cole in 1993-94.
But after unsuccessfully attempting to force a move away from Spurs in pre-season, Kane’s productivity and decisiveness have taken a massive hit.
In six league games this term, he is without a single goal – the last time Kane went more Premier League appearances games without a goal was eight matches between April and October 2014.
Some have put his struggles down to playing under a new head coach in Nuno Espirito Santo, and Southgate agrees that upheaval can have an impact, particularly if a manager implements a change of system.
“What’s going on with his club is none of my business, really,” Southgate said told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Hungary.
“There’s a lot changes at the club, a new manager and new tactical formations, so like all players there will be an adaptation to that.
“In terms of what we ask him to do, I think we’ve obviously got a settled way of playing here. His teammates know him, he knows his teammates, he knows the patterns of play that we play towards.
“I can’t talk about the club, but I think he feels settled in our environment. It’s an environment where he knows we have belief, but we have to push him. We want improvement from the team all the time.
“Of course, as the captain, he knows he has to set the standard in the training sessions every day as well. I can’t fault his application and dedication to what we’re doing. He’s got a real desire to go well with us.”
Kane’s form with England certainly is not of concern, however.
He has scored in each of his previous 15 World Cup and European Championship qualifying appearances and is closing in on a number of goals records.
Firstly, he is just one away from equalling England’s all-time record for most competitive goals (Wayne Rooney, 37).
And after that Kane – whose overall goals tally for England is 41 – will undoubtedly have his eye on the most sought-after England record of them all: Rooney’s unrivaled haul of 53.
The only other players to have scored more for England than the current captain are Jimmy Greaves (44), Gary Lineker (48), and Bobby Charlton (49) – to be anywhere near such feats further highlights just how reliable Kane is for the Three Lions.
“When you compare with the five or six other players at the top of that scoring chart, and you look at those names, it’s a reminder of how much Harry has already achieved at a personal level,” Southgate continued.
“And I know what’s been more important to him, it’s the team getting to two semi-finals and a final. Without a doubt, he’s a player who has to keep proving himself.
“I think he knows that I think he relishes that, and we know that when those chances fall, you’ve got huge faith they’re going to hit the back of the net, such as his technical ability and his mentality and calmness when those chances come.”