Harry Kane had a phenomenal 2017 and as a Spurs man I couldn’t have been more delighted.
The way I would sum up the impact he has as a striker is by saying: ‘If Harry…’ ‘If Harry chases the ball down the like that …’ ‘If Harry lives his life off the field like that….’ ‘If Harry stays after training like that….’
Sometimes you can have a star player who is a bit of a prima donna. The defenders can end up saying: ‘Well, if he tracked back and worked properly, we wouldn’t have so much to deal with.’
Harry Kane is at risk of suffering a burn out ahead of next summer’s World Cup in Russia
But no one’s got that excuse with Harry. He is a coach’s dream. If he works as hard as he does to win the ball back, as the best player in the team, then there’s no excuse for anyone else.
He scores but he also creates and often he’s making chances by harrying defenders into mistakes, which his team-mates benefit from.
He’s an inspiration for kids, having come through those tough loan-moves and got into the team. He’s fought for everything he’s achieved. He has everything: left foot, right foot, good head for goal, work-rate, enough speed and an understanding of when to move.
The Tottenham striker struggled at Euro 2016 after enjoying a successful season
If you built a robot, you would have all those attributes in there. And if a centre-half is worth now £75million, how much is he worth? It would have to be somewhere approaching Neymar’s fee of £200m.
There’s only one fear I have. He had a really good season in 2015-16 but had run out of gas by Euro 2016. Even in the pre-tournament friendlies against Portugal and Turkey you could see he didn’t have a run in him. And no player, not even Lionel Messi, can play like that.
Spurs lack the depth to help give the Kane the rest he needs to be fully fit for the World Cup
I was pleased he at least got something of a rest against Swansea during the hectic Christmas period, even if that was because he was carrying a cold. He will probably get another break on Sunday when Spurs take on Wimbledon in the FA Cup. The worry is that, because Spurs need him so much, there won’t be many more chances to leave him out between now and June.
Some traditionalists rail against those of us who think the Christmas programme needs to be modified but the sheer demands on elite players are now too much. Some might forget that the pace and demands of the game have intensified over 30 years. You can play over Christmas but it’s not right that some teams are being asked to play with just one day of recovery.
My team-mates in Monaco used to laugh at England. They know on continental Europe that all players need a break: physical, of course, but perhaps more importantly, a mental break from the relentlessness of the programme and routine.
Spurs’ stadium deal will reduce their spending capabilities to bring in world-class reinforcements and may have come a few years too early to keep Kane at the club
Every day you’re at the training ground, back home, off to a match, back for the warm-down, back again for training. Sustaining that for almost 12 months, into a World Cup, without a proper break is too much for any athlete.
If Tottenham had a bigger squad they could leave Harry out for the odd game like Pep Guardiola does for Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane. But that option isn’t there at Spurs. And it exposes a bigger problem coming down the line for the club.
It may be that they can offer him the kind of money that would do justice to a player who has outscored Messi in 2017. But even if they can do that, can they put the players around him to make him feel he can win trophies?
I said in the summer that this was a time for Tottenham to expand the squad with world-class players. I still feel that, though with the stadium needing to be financed it might have come a few years early to put themselves in the best position to keep Harry.
Cups will help Spurs keep Harry Kane
I know that it is common to view qualification for the Champions League as more important than winning the FA Cup. Given the sums of money involved, it’s understandable.
What I would ask players and managers who subscribe to that view is to think ahead 20 or 30 years. When you go back to visit your club, what photos will be on the wall?
They won’t be photos of you coming off from the last game of the season having secured fourth place. If you’ve won a cup, especially the FA Cup, you can guarantee that they’ll commemorate that and you’ll go down in club history. And that’s true even if you’re at Manchester United.
An FA Cup win may be the stepping stone in Tottenham’s bid to keep hold of their best stars
I also believe that silverware breeds more silverware. So an FA Cup win can lay the foundations for a winning team. Winning the FA Cup in 1981 with Tottenham set our team up for a few years of success, going on to win the FA Cup again in 1982 and the Uefa Cup in 1984 and reaching the Uefa Cup quarter-finals, only losing to Real Madrid, in 1985. It was the launchpad for our title challenge in 1984-85.
I’ve nothing but admiration for the job Mauricio Pochettino is doing at Tottenham but he has spoken about how the Premier League and the Champions League are the trophies the club should target. And while he is right in the long term, in the short term the FA Cup might be a stepping stone.
Spurs need trophies to persuade the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli to stay and be part of the next few years. The euphoria of an FA Cup win can help do that by creating lifetime memories. After all, it’s almost 37 years since Ricky Villa scored for us at Wembley. And we’re still talking about it!