Neil Humphreys: Tottenham Hotspur can’t rely on just Harry Kane
Their leading striker is usually good for a lead and Mourinho's men must protect the advantage
As long as Harry Kane stays fit, Tottenham Hotspur must be considered genuine contenders for silverware - with one condition.
They cannot sit back and admire his handiwork, rather literally.
|CRYSTAL PALACE||TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR|
Kane's early strike against Crystal Palace offered a launchpad for the club's title credentials, but Spurs retreated and invited the hosts to snatch a 1-1 draw last night.
Jose Mourinho's template encourages counter-attacking and concedes far too much possession, perhaps displaying an over-confidence in their peerless striker.
Kane may be in a class of his own. But he was left on his own as Tottenham essentially threw away a certain victory.
With Liverpool and Leicester City to come in the next two fixtures, Spurs should be mindful of not repeating the same mistake.
Kane is usually good for a lead. It's up to his teammates to keep it. At 27, he has already surpassed the lofty expectations of youth, but he has morphed into a different proposition altogether.
His treatment from Palace, along with his opening goal in the 23rd minute, evoked fleeting memories of a vibrant Ruud Gullit.
A tad generous? Consider Palace's tactics. Roy Hodgson practically ring-fenced Kane, surrounding him with three or even four markers.
Kane sprung the trap just once, drifting forward from his deep-lying position and unleashing a swerving strike from distance.
Vicente Guaita blundered in the Palace goal, but the craft, ingenuity and improvisation from Kane had more than a hint of Gullit.
But such comparisons are as hazy as they are pointless. There are traces of Gullit, Teddy Sheringham and Alan Shearer, but all that matters is Kane's current ability to dominate his position like no other in the English Premier League.
Alongside Son Heung-min, who picked up the assist, the pair offer a striking duo who are is currently the match of anyone, including their opponents on Thursday morning (Singapore time).
Even Liverpool will personalise their tactics for an attacking duo capable of picking any lock.
Surround Kane and he'll play quarter-back and find Son. Step off and he'll test the goalkeeper with unerring accuracy. Lose him in the box and concede the contest.
Kane usually finds a way, either for himself or Son. An injury for either man is unthinkable.
The pair have already combined for 12 EPL goals this season. Shearer and Chris Sutton managed 13 in Blackburn Rovers' title-winning campaign of 1994-1995, but their efforts were stretched across an entire season.
But Tottenham are not quite as imperious behind their unstoppable forwards. As the second half progressed, Palace did the same, dominating possession and irritating a scowling Mourinho.
Tottenham's current line-up and philosophy is arguably the most Mourinho-esque since his Inter Milan heyday, which is quite the compliment.
Spurs' 4-2-3-1 relies on Kane and Son at one end and as much as six defensive players at the other to eke out victories. Somewhere in between, possession is a less prized commodity.
Tottenham practically invited the hosts to attack, forcing Mourinho to replace Tanguy Ndombele with Giovani Lo Celso in an effort to preserve their slim advantage.
But an equaliser was no surprise when it finally arrived in the 81st minute. From a dipping free-kick, Jeffrey Schlupp knocked in the rebound, setting up an intense finale.
Guaita displayed stunning reflexes to beat out Kane's header and then Eric Dier's free-kick. A point apiece felt like an appropriate outcome.
Tottenham sat back for too long and essentially rested on Kane's laurels. Hopefully, the lesson will be learnt before the crucial visit to Liverpool.