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

Mane's the main man for Pool, says Fowler

Liverpool legend tips Senegalese for great things; confident of a win at the Bridge

"He is one of those players who gets you on the edge of your seat and makes you stand up and cheer." - Former Liverpool star Robbie Fowler, on Sadio Mane (above)


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Liverpool have had no shortage of stars over the years but, in Sadio Mane, club great Robbie Fowler thinks they have a potential game-changer on their hands.

The 24-year-old forward arrived from Southampton in June for a fee of £30 million ($54.1m) and made an instant impact.

In four matches, he has scored two goals and set up three.

Fowler, 41, who was a speaker at the Sports Matters conference at Marina Bay Sands, said yesterday: "We have got a very good squad.

"But, by far, the player who has made the biggest impact, and I can see him going on to bigger and better things with Liverpool, is Sadio Mane.

"He is a wonderful player.

"He excites you. He is one of those players who gets you on the edge of your seat and makes you stand up and cheer.

"Potentially, he's a real superstar."

The Reds will be looking for more magic from the Senegal international tomorrow morning (Singapore time), when they visit Stamford Bridge for an intriguing encounter with Chelsea.

Under new manager Antonio Conte, the Blues have enjoyed an excellent start to the season, collecting 10 points from four matches to sit second in the Premier League table.

Liverpool have impressed with their brand of attacking football, especially in their opening win over Arsenal and in last week's 4-1 victory over defending champions Leicester.

Inconsistency, though, continues to plague them, after a 2-0 loss to Burnley last month.

Fowler, though, believes Liverpool can surprise the hosts.


"We have got a very good chance," he said.

"We have started the season well. We have gone to Arsenal and got the three points, and probably should have gotten the three points at Tottenham.

"I love playing Chelsea early in the season, before any team have got any rhythm and are into the swing of things.

"It's probably a good time to play them. We're obviously quietly confident."

A win in London will surely add to the belief in the red half of Merseyside that the club are on the verge of something good under the guidance of 49-year-old German manager Juergen Klopp.

The mood in the camp has been totally transformed since his arrival last October, and the renewed confidence can be seen in their run to the final of the League Cup and Europa League last term.

Fowler paid tribute to the former Borussia Dortmund coach, saying: "What he's brought to Liverpool is belief.

"Maybe we struggled in the past when we have not really got to the heights we feel we could get to as a club, but Klopp is a proven manager.

"He has a successful record and he is the man who will bring the best out of everyone.

"He is very charismatic.

"He knows what he wants. I'm confident that he will deliver."

Already, Klopp has produced several memorable occasions at Anfield, with the dramatic comeback victory over Dortmund in the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final last April arguably the most outstanding.

After the game, he didn't forget to credit the Liverpool fans for being their 12th-man role, as his side clawed back from a 3-1 deficit to win the game 4-3 (5-4 on aggregate).

Klopp has made no secret of his admiration of Anfield, and the magical Kop end of the stadium.

Legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, who managed the club from 1959 to 1974, once remarked that the Kop was capable of sucking the ball into the goal.

Fowler, who scored 183 goals in 369 appearances for Liverpool, agreed.

Said the former England striker: "At times, it feels like that.

"Any Liverpool player will tell you it (the Kop) is really where to go.

"When anyone goes to Anfield, everyone talks about the atmosphere and the Kop. And it's not just the Liverpool players, it's also the opposition.

"It's down to the fans, they are the ones who make the incredible noise and have got behind the team on many, many occasions, especially on European nights.

"Long may that continue."

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Cherries in no rush to start Wilshere

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Toshack's enduring tale with Swansea

The Toshack touch in Swans' fairy tale which outshines the Leicester 
giant-killing story

HERO: James Thomas' (above) hat-trick in their 4-2 win over Hull in the 2002-03 season secured Swansea's status as a professional Football League club.


(Sunday, 8.45pm, Singtel TV Ch 103 & 
StarHub TV Ch 228, ELEVEN Plus HD)

Leicester City's title win last season ranks as one of the most thrilling - and certainly the most unexpected - in English football history.

However, as great as the Foxes' achievements were, it would surely have paled in comparison to the tale of John Toshack's Swansea City, who led the old First Division in the spring of 1982 before falling at the final few hurdles.

This Sunday, the Swans take on struggling Southampton in a swanky stadium and in front of a global TV audience of millions (including Eleven Sports Network in Singapore).

It's a far cry from the old days at the Vetch Field - the dilapidated stadium where they plied their trade from 1912 until the summer of 2005.

Swansea's exploits in the late 1970s and early '80s were led by former Liverpool and Wales legend John Toshack, who grabbed the club by the scruff of the neck and somehow guided them on a magnificent odyssey from the Fourth Division to (briefly) the summit of the top flight.

With six games remaining, the Swans led the chasing pack, but only one win from their final half a dozen fixtures saw them leapfrogged by eventual champions Liverpool.

The following season, despite having invested heavily in the squad, Swansea got off to a poor start and never recovered. They were relegated, and Toshack (above) resigned shortly after.

But that was only stage one in a downfall that was long and protracted. By 1986, the club were back where they started before Toshack's appointment - in the bottom division.

The years of turmoil continued. Ownership changed hands several times and the club were on the verge of bankruptcy on more than one occasion, until a consortium of local supporters and businessmen - an eclectic group of builders, accountants and carpet salesmen - formed the Swansea City Supporters Trust and forced through a takeover of their beloved club.

The Trust, headed by former Swansea legend Mel Nurse and chairman Huw Jenkins, worked tirelessly to revive the club, but, on the final day of the 2002-03 season, the Swans needed to beat Hull City in order to avoid dropping out of the Football League - an outcome that may well have ended their very existence.

Enter James Thomas, a local boy who had taken an 80 per cent pay cut after initiating a move to his boyhood team from Premier League Blackburn Rovers.

His hat-trick in a 4-2 victory secured Swansea's status as a professional Football League club. It was a day that will forever be etched in the memories of Swansea supporters.

"I'll always remember the night before the game trying to get to sleep. Just the pressure of it, especially being a local boy from Swansea - I had to face the supporters wherever I went," Thomas told ITV News.

"But, when you're on the pitch, it's just another game. The atmosphere that day was like a 12th man for us and helped massively. It was the highlight of my career and a day I'll never forget.

"That was rock bottom, and ever since that day the club have progressed. It was a massive turning point."

Thomas was forced to quit the game soon after following a persistent knee injury. He now works as an ambulance driver in nearby Port Talbot, and supports his old side from the plush Liberty Stadium seats as a season-ticket holder.

In 2005, Swansea began their ascent of the Football League once again, earning promotion from the basement division.

By now, they were playing in a state-of-the-art stadium, and new heroes had emerged, including Leon Britton (above), who remains a fixture in the Swans squad having also been part of Thomas's landmark day on May 3, 2003.

In 2011, the club were promoted back to the top flight after a 28-year absence. In 2013, they won their first major trophy, the League Cup, and three years later they're still punching above their weight in the Premier League.

Two months ago, in an effort to maintain the club's upward trajectory, the rag-tag bunch of local businessmen who saved the club 15 years ago, relinquished their controlling interest to an American consortium led by Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan.

The rise, fall and rise of Swansea City is a story for the ages, and the next chapter promises to be yet another page-turner.

Richard Lenton is the lead presenter at ELEVEN SPORTS NETWORK. Join Richard and his studio guests for ELEVEN's live coverage of the Premier League, which includes tomorrow morning's (Singapore time) clash between Chelsea and Liverpool at 2.30am, and Sunday's double-header between Watford and Manchester United (6.30pm), and Southampton versus Swansea (8.45pm). For more details, visit www.elevensports.sg

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Amendment could delay FAS' election

Rejection by affiliates could delay FAS election of new leadership

WINDS OF CHANGE: (Above from left) Zainudin Nordin, president of Football Association of Singapore (FAS); Lim Kia Tong, vice-president of FAS; and Winston Lee, general secretary of FAS.

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) could install its first elected leadership by Dec 1, 2016.

This is based on times specified in FAS' proposed constitution between incumbent FAS president Zainudin Nordin calling for election, and the actual voting day. (see box)

But these constitutional amendments have first to be voted in by the FAS' 46 voting members at its annual general meeting (AGM) on Sept 24 - and that may not happen.

The FAS announced yesterday that it has received approval from world football governing body Fifa for its proposed constitutional amendments to allow for democratic election of its leadership, but its target of holding an election by the end of 2016 could be stymied.

Alfred Dodwell, the only named member of R Vengadasalam's team to be put forward for election, has already started campaigning for support to make a further amendment - to add three more members to the 15 who will stand for election to the FAS Council.

This is aimed at having more robust discussions that will see only good ideas implemented.

Rejection would mean a return to the drawing board and a certain delay in calling for the FAS' first election.

Each of FAS' 46 affiliates has one vote, and a simple majority is required to pass - or reject - the FAS' proposed constitution.

FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong, who is leading the FAS' constitutional amendment efforts, believes the proposed change is unnecessary.

"It is clear that there are no major objections (to FAS' proposed constitutions), but the change that has been proposed will not have a major effect," he said.

Lim explained that three co-opted members will be added to the 15-member elected FAS council, to ensure "vibrant debates", and while those three will not have voting rights, there are other checks within the council.

In its decision-making process, the council members will vote, while the president abstains. And if there is a tie, the president will cast the final vote to determine the council's course of action.  

"I think there is no necessity for this (proposed change)," said Lim who is the deputy chairman of Fifa's disciplinary committee.

Lim revealed that if Dodwell does manage to garner enough support to reject FAS' proposed amendments, it will certainly delay the election.

"We will have to redraft that article in the constitution, and get Fifa approval again. And I can't tell how much time that will take," he said.

The FAS started redrafting its constitution in January this year, taking some nine months to receive final approval for the document.

Fifa has approved transitional provisions in the FAS proposed constitutions that allow for the current FAS leadership helmed by Zainudin to "remain in their positions and effective", provided the election is held before the end of 2016. But this could change if there is a delay.

Brunei and Indonesia have faced Fifa bans in the past for third-party interference in their football affairs and a delay in conducting democratic elections, but Fifa had earlier told The New Paper in a statement that those cases "do not compare to the situation of the FAS."

"These (constitutional) changes have been made with the idea to be inclusive and to allow for vibrant discussions, for the good of football," said Lim.

"I don't foresee any major objections."


  • President, deputy president, four vice-presidents and three council members will run on a slate
  • The remaining six council members will run as individuals
  • Three more council members will be co-opted in

Council make-up:President, deputy president, four vice-presidents

  • Nine elected council members
  • Three co-opted council members

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