Despite the fact that Harry Kane won the Golden Boot at the World Cup and finally ended his August hoodoo with 2 goals in the opening month of the season, discussion regarding his perceived lack of match sharpness continues to loom large in the British media, whilst the form of Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling at international level remains a cause for concern.
That Kane’s form has even remotely been called into question in recent months is a testament to the immensely high standard he has set for himself. The England and Tottenham talisman has set the bar at an impeccably high level for the rest of the footballing world with his relentless goal-scoring touch, but yet plenty of fans and pundits remain dissatisfied with what he offers.
What is clear is that Kane was isolated at times during the World Cup and was forced to drop deeper to collect the ball – although that may well have been an intentional tactical from Southgate. Either way, he was left with too much to do in the final-third as England lacked the zip and bite which was needed to pose a menacing threat throughout the tournament.
And ahead of England’s clash with Spain tomorrow afternoon Martin Keown took part in his weekly Q&A liver blog on the Daily Mail.
One supporter was keen for his opinion on how the national side can take the pressure off Kane, and Keown responded by citing Raheem Sterling (valued at £72 million by Transfermarkt) as the man who needs to step up his game within an auxiliary striker role.
Considering how clinical Sterling is at club level there’s no doubt that Keown is right to identify him as the man who can ease the responsibility on captain Kane’s shoulders.
Everybody is aware of how Sterling has not quite thrived at international level as he has at Man City, but the above infographic may still arrive as a shock to some supporters.
The most damming statistic certainly relates to his goal-scoring record which currently stands at less than 1 goal in every 20 matches for England, whilst his ratio is just shy of 1 in 3 for the champions.
Naturally, the systems and personnel within the England national side need to be compared accordingly but there’s still no doubt that Sterling’s record at international level is not a fair reflection on his overall ability.
It will be interesting to see if Sterling and Kane line up as a front-two against Spain tomorrow evening after they played in a similar system during the World Cup, and if Southgate opts for a familiar starting eleven then the 23-year-old must do everything he can to get on the scoresheet and prove England have a source of goals beyond Kane.
Tottenham and Man City fans – thoughts on the Sterling/Kane dynamic? Let us know below!