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3 Feb 2015

Carra raves: 'Fantastic' £20m attacker is a football 'genius'. Better than Sterling?

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With 20 goals already this season, Tottenham star Harry Kane has seemingly come from nowhere to take English football by storm, and Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher is one of growing number of pundits singing the 21-year old striker's praises.

Discussing Kane on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football Special, Carragher hailed Kane's 'genius' knack for scoring goals, and further enthused:

"His [Kane's] coolness and composure in front of goal is fantastic, but it's also the added bits: hold up play, working hard and the goals that you'd expect from every centre forward. He's got a touch of class"

£20m-rated Kane is in Daniel Sturridge-esque form this season:

* 24 goals/assists in 33 appearances.
* Goal/assist every 92 minutes (1 every game)

Great stats, but hardly worthy of the label 'genius'. The reality is that Kane - like Raheem Sterling - has achieved next to nothing in the game, and the overpraise coming his way is ridiculous, and (probably) counter-productive.

This is the typical English approach to footballers, though. Whenever an English player shows the slightest bit of talent, he's immediately elevated to godlike status, and lionised out of all earthly proportion.

Very early in the deification process, labels like 'world-class' and 'best in Europe' are thrown around as the press, pundits etc delude themselves into thinking that the player in question is the 'new Zidane/Messi/Ronaldo etc, with the amazing ability to (ultimately) propel the national team to World Cup glory.

Then, after a while, the player in question fails to consistently deliver the goods (at major tournaments, for example); the gross exaggeration dies down, and the cold, crushing reality starts to set-in, leading to a realisations that is as inevitable as it is predictable:

England very rarely (if ever) produces genuinely world-class players. Read it and weep.

(and yes, I know Scotland is even worse at producing top-class players, and I don't dispute that!)

The media will continue to try and fool everyone that the likes of Kane, Sterling, Wilshere etc are on a par with the world's greatest players, but sooner rather than later, they - like the ludicrously-labelled 'golden generation' before them - will crash and burn when the time comes to step-up and prove it.

In the words of Agent Smith: It is inevitable...

Kudos, though, to Michael Owen, who recently delivered the following restrained assessment of Kane:

“Kane is a very good all-round player. Is he going to be an absolute world-class player? I would be surprised if he was, but I think that he is good enough for England.”

I find this comment extremely amusing as it sums up the England team to a tee: filled with good players, but totally bereft of genuine world-class ability.

Just out of interest:

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  1. All fine points.

    As a Spurs fan, I will take Harry Kane as our personal saviour, England can go look elsewhere for theirs as far as I'm concerned.

    In all seriousness I think his drive and work ethic are fantastic, and his technical ability is also very good. Even if he finishes the season with 35 goals, I will view it as an amazing standout season instead of raising my expectations that he is all of a sudden the 5th best striker in world football.

  2. rather a bitter little fellow aren't you Jaimie.

  3. Poor old Owen gets a lot of abuse as a pundit. I can't help but feel that he talks more sense on occasion than most of the pundits who are happy to just highlight the obvious features of games and don't actually take the variable situations players find themselves in.

  4. Finally, I guess the Jan window is closed & as I said in some post a month back - LFC hasn't bought any new player.

    It's clear to me - BR has to finish in top 4 with this squad or the next Manager 'll get the money.

    Rafa? With this current squad & 50mn investment + sales proceeds, I think Rafa can take us to last for of EPL & CL (the following year).

  5. A worthy discussion, and a decent (if pessimistic) article.

    So far this season, Harry Kane has systematically dismantled most defences he has come across (and in his less effective games, his tireless work ethic has contributed to the cause immensely). This has nothing to do with the future; this is precisely what is happening NOW.

    10 league goals in 13 starts, in addition to match-winning assists, can only encourage the kind of 'over-the-top' reaction that the author has mentioned - although Jamie Carragher's use of the word 'genius' has more to do with Kane's style and substance, rather than his 'stats'.

    The article starts by stating that Kane has 'seemingly come from nowhere'. Although this may be true as far as the media is concerned, I can remember him banging in 20 goals a season from attacking midfield in the Under-18 side. This form has been a long time coming, and there's no reason to doubt that it'll wane any time soon (barring injury, of course).

    I agree with the author that we shouldn't pressurise good young English players into submission. However, Spurs and Liverpool are two clubs that encourage their young players, giving them the freedom to develop at their own pace, trusting in their ability (the complete opposite of what goes on at Chelsea, incidentally).

    I do think it's unfair to suggest what WILL happen with Kane regarding England. We have no idea what WILL happen. We've all been guilty of taking players like Shearer and Sheringham for granted, but is it really beyond reason to propose that another player will, at some point, come along who is as good, if not better? I don't think it's an unreasonable prediction.

    I couldn't care less about what Michael Owen has to say about anything. He is as dull as dishwater.

    Is Harry Kane better than Stirling? Who cares? They are both likely to have long international careers, in positions that won't conflict with each other - quite the opposite, in fact. I would imagine that they would link-up exceptionally well for the national team.

    I don't see why we shouldn't get excited when a young English talent produces the goods in the way that Kane has - as long as we don't start lying to ourselves (vis-a-vis Wilshere). The proof will be in the pudding, after all.

  6. Comparing an apple to an orange.

    Kane - strong, dominant, more clinical

    Sterling - Fast, quick, better dribbler, besides, Sterling also just got moved in to striker

  7. This is not critical realism. It's critical, miserable pessimism.

  8. Care to elaborate...

  9. It's clearly a break out season for Kane, but maybe "genius" is over the top. Danny Ings has 7 league goals this season, Berahino 9 and Kane 10. Of the three you'd have to say Ings has the toughest job while Kane in particular has some quality creative players around him. So Kane is right up there with the selection of young players doing well for themselves this season and he's certainly worth noticing.

    What strikes me the most about him is his finishing. Yes he's a strong lad who can keep his feet but like Sturridge what really counts is putting the ball in the back of the net. He really knows where the goal is and he's a scorer, plain and simple. Weather you call that genius or not ... well, it's Sky Sports, Carragher is paid to say something interesting. I agree that the player right now is displaying the kind of goal scoring quality that you'd expect to see from any top European player.

    If I might make an unexpected comparison ... he reminds me of an in form Mario Balotelli. Similar size and similar skill set. If Mario ever gets his act together I see him playing in a Kane type of role.

  10. He is a fantastic player. Hard working, good finishing and very cool....I cheer whenever he score goals....wish we had a partnership of Sturridge and Kane..!!

  11. Rafa has been and gone, I dont believe we should go back there, sure enough he would sure up our defence but no doubt blunt our creative football. He like Rodgers wasn't brilliant in the transfer market he got some right but the majority was mediocre

  12. I think it is too early to say but Sterling is already regarded as the best young player in Europe and Kane is competing at the top of the EPL at a young age.

    Owen is being critical because he is now trying to make a living as a football commentator and like most commentators he knows that a controversial negative comment will make more headlines and him more money

  13. Sorry, can't agree at all.

    Rafa was (is) a tactical genius. He won the La Liga over the big 2 twice & made CL Final 3 times with average sides, winning once; then won the EUROPA with 4-5 months into a club. At LFC, he never had the team for a 38 matches season, yet took the title race to last week once (& made the CL SF same year). Tactically, he was equal, if not better than Sir Alex, JM or Wenger - just check our head to heads in big matches, but we kept losing the EPL title for drawing/losing "soft" matches, because the squad didn't have any depth or coverage for 2 matches per week.

    Rafa did great with our academy & his transfer dealings were apparently poor because he always had to go for sacrifice choices - just check those players we missed for few million & then later what they did for "Big" clubs. Only few times when Rafa had some money (mostly earned by him through CL) he did bring Torres, Masch, Alonso, Johnson...... You would have seen what a World class Manager can do had Rafa been given a EPL runners-up team (minus Suarez) & another 125mn to spend (But, I believe Suarez would have stayed had Rafa been here)

  14. For me Kane is the real deal, not to say he's world class but he now has the psychological boost of ripping a team like Chelsea. As pointed out his infectious work rate, eye for goal makes him one to keep an eye on for the future. As far as comparing to Sterling, apples & pears. I would welcome both with open arms!

  15. jus' gettin' them vibez, ya know what I'm sayin'?

  16. One of the most notable things about Kane is his work rate and positional sense. That is where the comparison falls apart I'm afraid.

  17. He is going to win England the World Cup single handed. A bit OTT? Naa...

  18. "who are happy to just highlight the obvious features of games and don't
    actually take the variable situations players find themselves in." This actually describes Owen as a pundit.

  19. Did he say he was " a genius" or he " is genius" or "has genius"? All slightly different and the last one being the most different of the lot.

    Jaimie do you despute that some of the "golden generation" were world class?

  20. Ha so what - just cos he scores loads of goals. Mario can knock over water bottles- beat that

  21. JK the voting button has gone awry again

  22. Finishing skills are the only thing comparable at the moment.

  23. Mate who cares how he compares to others, he's yours. I always love it when a kid like Sterling or Kane come through the ranks at LFC. Having Gerrard has saved us millions and gave us our identity over the past fifteen years. No club gets a large number of top top players out of their youth setup. That's not how Premier League clubs are setup in the first place. People always speak of clubs like West Ham and Southampton but they don't need to worry about finishing inside the top four every season. If they ever do, it's just a big bonus to them. It's great to have a player like that in your team and people can argue until their blue in the face whether they are as good as this player or that player but as long as those players are at other clubs, why should we really care about them?

  24. Ballotelli's lack of and Kane's apparent ability.

  25. Benteke, we were saying the same thing last season

  26. I agree Owen gets a lot of abuse as a pundit and he deserves more than that ;-)

  27. Balotelli's finishing is world class. Am talking of his performances at city....he might be lazy and all that but his finishing is extremely good when he is in form.

  28. So when he was in form at City his finishing was world class? Quite a lot of caveats there buddy. It's not like he was a 20 goal a season player for them or in fact for anyone ever. Kane has 20 goals now in Feb. So maybe not hey.

  29. He was someone I always thought would be loaned out drop down the leagues for some reason.
    But glad he got a change and his record is really good. 20 goals already ay?

  30. Balotelli will probably never score 20 goals in his career but that is down to his lack of desire/passion for the game and also partly due to immaturity. But he is a talent and I always felt (during his time at city) that his finishing and shooting is extremely good. Obviously, things haven't worked out the same way with Liverpool but its hard to argue that he has a very raw talent which will probably remain raw forever.

  31. Actual quote from Cara on MNF which is where he is supposed to have said Kane was genius;

    "He has a touch of....(grimaces) genius is too strong a word for him but hopefully that can come to the fore"

    Looks like the Mail made a meal of nothing to me. But that is the usual state of affairs.

  32. Souness, Hansen and Dalglish to say nothing of Scotland's contribution to world class goalkeeping ;-) And it probably is better to say nothing about that .....;-)

  33. There is a lack of consistency and that is the issue. Whatever it'd down to (probably mentality) it just means that he has never consistently put in a run of world class goals or finishing. That's why I don't consider him to have a world class finish. Because lots of the time it will be wayward and other time you wonder how he scored it. He has some technical ability that better goal scorers may never have but that doesn't mean much when it comes to the crunch. That is why I disagree mate.

  34. Same. Even Spurs fans didn't think that much of him at first. He looks much better than Soldado and far far better than Adebayor who is a player I dislike a lot.

  35. Good point. I think (from what I have seen) that Kane has more strings to his bow though. But by the end of next season we may be saying something different. One thing is for sure Kane puts in far more effort than Benteke.

  36. Yes, I dispute that. For me, none of the golden generation were 'world class' as none of them performed consistently and/or dominated on the world stage (i.e. international tournaments).

    Some came close: Gerrard, Lampard, Owen, Beckham, Ferdinand, and that's about it.

  37. I agree to that. I am just judging his raw talent (good shooting and finishing IMO) on standalone basis and not with actual credible output i.e. scoring goals consistently.

  38. The trouble is, the great buys stopped at Torres and his early success in that regard was not repeated later in his tenure. I can't BELIEVE you included Johnson ! At NO time was he ever, EVER a world class or even top class player able to be mentioned alongside Xabi or Masch, or the early Torres. Get a grip.
    Rafa won NOTHING from 2007 on. Even with those top quality players in the team at the same time as SG at his peak. Nobody credits Rodgers for turning Suarez into a 75-100m player from his £22m fee, which funded about half of his spending. Rafa nhad CL credentials to bargain with, but left LFC without that status when he left .
    BR may not be the final answer. But he got closer (2points) to the PL than Rafa did

  39. Only forwards can single-handedly win you games.

  40. To dominate on the world stage the rest of the team needed to be up to the task. England rarely, if ever were.
    The only player I remember virtually singlehandedly winning an international tournament was Maradonna.

    Gerrard was remarkably consistent for 5 years between 2004 and 2009, how long do you want?

    And you missed Italia 90's Gazza. DEFINITELY World Class, wish he hadn't self destructed.

  41. I voted you up straight after the Johnson comment. He has never ever come close to the price we paid for him.

  42. Owen saying that is sooo amusing.. I mean he was for Liverpool what Kane is becoming for Spurs and than he went to the biggest club ever and he had his fair share of big tournaments. What he has to show after all of that?

  43. Gazza didn't consistently do it in the league or in Europe, so he isn't (IMO) world class.

    Impact is relative. England's optimum achievement level is probably a World Cup/European Championship semi-final. Given the talent in the squad during the 'golden generation' years, that was surely an achievable goal.

    They all failed to achieve that, including Gerrard. If Gerrard was genuinely world-class, his presence in the team would've pushed England to at least a semi-final in a major tournament. Despite many chances to achieve it, that didn't happen at any point in his career, so I fail to see how Gerrard can be considered to be on the same level as the likes of Zidane, Messi, Iniesta, Xavi et al.

    World class players don't have to push their teams to win tournaments; they only have to play a significant role in helping their team to achieve a realistic goal (i.e. optimum achievement level).