Tired Kane needs rest
Tired striker must be given time off to recharge batteries
(Toby Alderweireld 45)
(Bernardo Silva 15, Thomas Lemar 31)
Harry Kane's trudge around Wembley pretty much summed up the life of a young English footballer.
He's over-played and was all over the place.
His Wembley wheezing in the Champions League loss to Monaco was indicative of a domestic and international campaign that never stops, the place where rising stars never rest.
England's list of pretty young things burning brightly before fizzling out quickly is long.
From Paul Gascoigne to Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney, the temptation to mismanage long-term careers for short-term gain is always there.
They peak too soon. Their punishing schedule steals a yard of pace. They burn out and the world is left wondering what might have been.
Tottenham must steer Kane (above) away from a similar path.
Out of sorts and mostly out of his depth, he failed to score in Spurs' 2-1 defeat by the French outfit yesterday morning (Singapore time).
Up next is struggling Sunderland on Sunday, and Mauricio Pochettino should consider benching his prized asset for the striker's own good.
At Wembley, Kane was a ghost of his former self, meandering across the green expanse like an aimless drifter. The larger pitch didn't help. The loss of speed hurt more.
Late in the second half, as Tottenham chased an equaliser, substitute Vincent Janssen accelerated along the right, losing his marker and releasing Kane in one fluid movement.
Kane shot straight at the goalkeeper.
The missed opportunity, along with a couple of others, now presents Pochettino with a pair of problems.
Kane is running on empty. Janssen is running on a high.
If the Spurs manager cannot accommodate both strikers - and his preferred 4-2-3-1 pressing style makes that unlikely - then the Dutch newcomer could get the nod against Sunderland.
Before the Monaco defeat, former Spurs centre-forward Gary Lineker reiterated his concern that English football's uncompromising fixture list takes its toll on young players who rely on dramatic bursts of acceleration.
As the game moves away from the 4-4-2 formations of Lineker's era into a frenetic counter-attacking model of endless passing and pressing, Kane's style makes him more susceptible to fatigue.
To briefly compare the two strikers, Lineker was a late bloomer who missed the rigours of international football at Under-21 level altogether, like Leicester City's Jamie Vardy, incidentally. Kane didn't.
After a fine, first full season with Spurs, Kane played in the Under-21 European Championship last summer and then found himself at the apex of Pochettino's counter-pressing dash for the title.
Kane floundered in the final stages of the campaign. Vardy didn't.
The 23-year-old's lethargy followed him to France and England's doomed Euro 2016 campaign, reaching an embarrassing nadir against Iceland.
His touch was leaden and his passing scattershot. The set-piece deliveries defied belief.
But there's no rest for the woeful in the English Premier League. Kane continues to lead the line for Tottenham, despite his depleted reserves.
After struggling through nine goal-less games for club and country, he finally scored against Stoke at the weekend. Optimism quietly returned.
After all, Kane has been here before.
He reached mid-October with only one goal last season and ended up with the Golden Boot. Like a water diviner in the desert, he's no stranger to a drought.
But the journey appears less productive this time around.
In 335 league minutes, Kane has managed to touch the ball just 10 times in the opponent's box. Raheem Sterling currently tops the list with 39 touches.
Even Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a striker equally adept outside the box, has touched the ball 31 times.
All strikers spurn chances. But Kane is struggling to even reach the chances.
He's not creating too many, either. During his six-match goal-less streak last season, he averaged a chance every 57.1 minutes.
This time around, the figure has dropped to one every 111.7 minutes.
Tottenham's campaign is still in its infancy and Kane's teammates hardly covered themselves in glory against Monaco, particularly in defence.
But the early statistics confirm what was self-evident at Wembley.
England's most complete striker in a generation toils wearily with a relentless workload that shows no sign of abating.
From Spurs' dramatic title collapse, through England's Euro 2016 debacle, to a miserable night against Monaco, Kane has looked older than his 23 years.
As Owen and Rooney might testify, age withers England's attacking prodigies.
Only Pochettino can stop recent history from repeating itself.
The game against Sunderland offers salvation for Kane, but might also provide confirmation for the Tottenham manager.
For Spurs, a change is as good as a rest.
And a Janssen change allows Kane to rest.
Kane's talent certainly deserves better than an early burnout.
"On a larger pitch it’s harder to close people down because there is more space. In terms of tactics and how we set up we were determined to stop Tottenham in their transitions."
- Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim
"We need to show more hunger and passion. We showed a lack of passion... . We waited a long time to be in the Champions League and we fight a lot last season to be in it. The feeling is why didn’t we do more?"
- Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino