Tottenham could fall by the wayside without Kane after failing to invest in backup

Tottenham could fall by the wayside without Kane after failing to invest in backup

The England front man could be out until March with an ankle injury sustained against Manchester United

Harry Kane is probably the deadliest marksman in world football right now. The 25-year-old front man has taken the Premier League by storm since establishing himself as a member of Tottenham’s first team in 2014. His goal return since then is almost unfathomable – 122 goals in 175 Premier League appearances has seen the former Arsenal trainee clinch the prestigious Golden Boot award twice in the previous four seasons.

What makes Kane superior to most strikers is the sheer level of consistency he displays each week. Since the days of Shearer, Fowler and Cole – all such prominent goalscorers in the late 90’s and early noughties – the Premier League hasn’t seen another English striker show that same level of consistency in front of goal; that same bullish nature in an around the penalty area, the same instinct that turns a good forward into an exceptional one.

Kane does this seemingly with ease however, and more. Not only is he one of the world’s best finishers, but what so often goes without mention is his flawless hold-up play, the way he brings the supporting cast into action, his unselfish nature in front of goal should a team-mate find himself in a better goalscoring opportunity. All of these things, accumulatively, have made him what he is today – a ruthless striker wanted so desperately by every club in the world.

Kane is the main man, which makes his absence all the more damaging to Spurs

Harry Kane is the headline act, the leading actor, the main man. He was the star performer for England during an unforgettable campaign in Russia last summer, winning the World Cup’s Golden Boot award after scoring six goals in six games for Gareth Southgate’s vibrant, rebuffed outfit who gave everything they could to reach the competition’s semi-final phase in July. He is though, perhaps more so, the main man for Tottenham.

He is the man Spurs not only rely upon to score them goals, but the man they look to in times of crisis; the man to rally the troops, to motivate the pack and drive the team on when times get tough. Such as the reliance on Kane however means that when he is absent, they seem to just fall apart at the seems; lost without direction, completely bereft of confidence, almost frightened at their lack of cutting edge especially against the Premier League’s bigger teams.

Without Kane, Tottenham lack a cutting edge.

Kane started the season in a typically underwhelming fashion, the forward who is so prominent from September onwards has always struggled throughout August, famously not scoring a single goal in the seasons opening month before his attempts against Fulham and Manchester United this time around. Since then, Kane has gone onto register 12 more league goals, taking his tally for the season up to 14 – level with Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerik Aubameyang.

Just like the previous five seasons, the 25-year-old looked on course to challenge for the Premier League’s Golden Boot award at the end of the season, an untimely ankle injury sustained in Tottenham’s slender 1-0 defeat to Manchester United two weeks ago looks to have massively dented his chances of glory however, with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah – last seasons Golden Boot winner – now pulling two goals clear at the top of the scoring charts following a brace against Crystal Palace last weekend. This is a huge blow for a player like Kane, who strives to be the best each season. Last year would have hurt; missing out on being ‘top dog’ by just two goals, and now this time around it looks as though the opportunity will pass him by thanks to a rare but untimely setback presented to him at this pivotal stage of the campaign.

Llorente falls short of the quality required to fill Kane’s boots

For his club though, Kane’s injury is not just an inconvenience, it’s a disaster. Without a back up striker who is even close to matching his quality on the field, Spurs currently find themselves in dire straights. Fernando Llorente is useful when it comes to lesser-prioritised cup clashes against lower league opponents, but in a title challenge he is not a man who can be relied upon to bag you a goal a game, something Kane has proved he is more than capable of doing throughout the last four/five seasons.

At 33 years of age the Spaniard brings experience and physicality, but not much else. Most top flight defenders can now match him for strength and as proven against Fulham on Sunday, aside from an unfortunate own goal which could have happened to anyone, his effectiveness in the final third is minuscule compared to Kane. A headed goal in Tottenham’s Carabao Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea on Thursday night may paper over the cracks for a little while, but it was still a goal scored in a cup fixture and you can’t help but think that when domestic action returns next week, the towering centre forward will once again struggle coping with the pace and demands of the Premier League.

Veteran forward Fernando Llorente is clearly now past his prime.

Two weeks ago Tottenham were genuine title challengers, albeit with the odds stacked heavily against them. Mauricio Pochettino’s men were probably never going to beat Manchester City or Liverpool to top spot, but what they could have done – and still can do – is prove to be a thorn in the side of both Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, keeping the pair on their toes as the campaign really starts to hot up. With five points separating Spurs and City after Harry Winks’ late winner at Craven Cottage on Sunday afternoon, Tottenham are still in with a slight chance of causing an upset this season. What could cost them though is without Harry Kane, who have they got to drive them on and score them goals in the forthcoming six weeks?

Son Heung-min will return from international duty next week after South Korea bowed out of the Asia Cup by losing 1-0 to Qatar on Friday which will be a huge boost for the North Londoners. But with Dele Alli now ruled out with a hamstring injury and Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela both struggling for form at the moment, Kane’s absence looks as though it will massively hinder Spurs’ chances of retaining pressure on the two current league leaders.

Tottenham’s rivals all have a Plan B

Few clubs have a back up striker who possesses the same quality as their main ‘number 9’, however if you take sides like Manchester City, who have Gabriel Jesus at their disposal should Pep Guardiola see fit to rest Sergio Aguero, and Liverpool who have Daniel Sturridge to rely upon if Roberto Firmino gets injured, they’re both streets ahead of Tottenham’s attacking options.

Manchester United have entrusted Marcus Rashford with their goalscoring responsibilities after a poor run of form saw £90 million Romelu Lukaku benched and the 20-year-old has restored the faith shown in him by scoring five goals in his last six matches. Chelsea have Eden Hazard, Olivier Giroud and now Gonzalo Higuain all available to them up front. Fierce rivals Arsenal have both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to rely upon; between the two they’ve managed 22 league goals this season, transforming the Gunners into a side that looks capable of finishing in the top four for the first time in three years.

In summary, there is a frightening contrast between the baron wasteland Mauricio Pochettino faces when he looks at his attacking options in a time of need, to the one his opposing numbers look at when they delve deeper into their respective squads. And if Tottenham are to ever genuinely contend for the Premier League, this is the exact thing that needs to change. They cannot rely solely upon one man to constantly deliver, because at some stage he will get burnt out or injured by shouldering so much responsibility week in, week out.

With a brand new multi-million pound stadium on the way, it’s evident to see where Tottenham’s funds have gone and understandable why they’d be reluctant to part with another £35-50 million to sign a backup striker. However, if Daniel Levy was to splash the cash and bring in a player – Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson for instance – the money invested in the 26-year-old would most likely be repaid, and more so, throughout the proceeding three to five seasons. It’s a risk, sure, but for as long as Tottenham continue to rely so heavily on a starting lineup of real quality, class and strength – whilst failing to invest in their squad – they will forever be the ‘nearly men’ of English football, constantly falling away when the going gets tough.

Mauricio Pochettino faces a tough task chasing City and Liverpool without his leading man.