Spurs boss: Harry Kane’s goalless spell shows he needed a break in the summer
Mauricio Pochettino has reiterated that Harry Kane needed a break during the summer, suggesting the striker’s involvement in England’s European Under-21 Championship campaign has played a part in his goalless spell for Tottenham.
Pochettino was voicing his fears about Kane’s schedule and workload in early March, and the club versus country issue was a regular topic of his press conferences in the latter part of last season.
The young forward ended up going on Spurs’ end-of-season tour to Malaysia and Australia at the end of May before representing Gareth Southgate’s England side in the European Under-21 tournament in the Czech Republic, playing three group games between June 18 and 24.
A little more than a month later, he was heading to the USA to play in Tottenham’s pre-season friendly against the MLS All-Stars on July 29.
Kane scored against the American outfit that night but that was his last goal for his club. While he found the net in both of England’s games against San Marino and Switzerland earlier this month, he has yet to get off the mark in his eight games for Tottenham – and Pochettino admits this is what he feared earlier in the year.
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“This is why last season towards to the end we always in our press conferences tried to explain that last season for Harry Kane was very, very hard,” said the head coach. “Not only on the pitch, but off the pitch as the pressure - he is a hero for Tottenham and England - was unbelievable, the way that the people see him. It’s not easy to recover because it’s not only physical, it’s mental and it’s true that maybe the summer did not help him.
“I think he is the same person and he has the same mentality as last season. But maybe at the end of the season he rested, went to the Euros, didn’t score at the Euros after three games, he came back late for pre-season and you need to recover the time.
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“Sometimes you are not in the best scoring condition when you start to play, and you don’t score and your confidence goes down. This is probably what has happened, but this is a good experience for the future, to manage a young player like he still is.”
Pochettino believes Kane will learn valuable lessons during this spell: “You can improve a lot in the bad moments and for him it is a very tough moment,” he said.
“He is still young and you can improve and realise which is your people and the people who can help you now. When you are on the crest of the wave [there are] a lot of people around you and now you can realise who is the real people around you, and the people who can really help you as it was easy when he scored to speak about him.
“Around the club there are a lot of very good people. My staff, the staff of the club, we are all behind him to help him.
“It’s true that he tries hard to start to score again. It’s not easy for a striker and that’s why we need to give him good tools to stay calm and do his job because he is a great striker and a great player. It’s only this period that is difficult for him.
“We try to assess the position on the pitch and sometimes he drops too much, but when we analyse it I think he is playing the same way that he did last season when he scored a lot of goals.
“The striker sometimes needs confidence and trust and maybe he has lost his confidence a little bit. It’s our job too to give back his confidence so he can start to score.”
While Pochettino admits he would rather Kane had not gone to the European Under-21 Championship, he insists he would have no issue with the forward being selected in Roy Hodgson’s squad for the senior Euro 2016 tournament in France next summer.
“This is different,” he said. “This is different because the Euros of the senior national team are different from the Under-21 Euros. I think it is a very different tournament.
“I think that he was one of the strikers of the year in the Premier League and that is the best league in the world, and if after you want him to play at the Euros with the senior national team, it is ok.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs