Watching the exploits of 21 year old Harry Kane this is like seeing a double rainbow for the 4th time, undeniably special, yet part of it’s shine, it’s lustre has vanished with repeated viewings, and no number of people attempting to convince me otherwise will change that.
Yet as I watched the 50s-esque Kane roll Nemanja Matić and stroke in Tottenham’s 4th goal of the evening, capping off a marvellous performance that highlighted his numerous, multi-faceted qualities, I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of excitement.
As an Englishman of course, seeing a 21-year-old bully, pull, stretch and worry a defence that, by popular committee is the most frugal in the league was exciting. My thoughts immediately turned to the future, my mind wandered to a Kane led England frontline battling for glory, the eternal dream if you will.
Then a comment from BT Sports commentator Ian Darke instantly highlighted the depraved depths of the great English youth problem. His remarks were related to the pivotal role Harry Kane would play in Gareth Southgate’s under-21 squad this summer.
As I choked back my final bit of festive Goose, my response to the full room of mesmerised folks was and I quote, “fat chance of that”. I like many others know that Harry Kane will be promoted into the senior setup sooner rather than later, the Under 21’s once again being robbed of a pivotal player at it’s most important period. If the past is anything to go by, that is a route fraught with danger that quite honestly we cannot afford to blindly walk down. In no other major footballing nation are fans so cavalier as to demand so much from our young talent.
The crucial difference is that, to others the under 21’s provide an opportunity to prove a players worth on the international scene, to experience training camps and prolonged periods away from home, the equivalent of a club’s reserves if you will. Yet here, to “insult” a player by “condemning him” to rot in the youth setup is unthinkable.
There seems to be an innate fear that by allowing our young talent to nurture and grow we’re robbing our national team of the next ‘big thing’, such a mentality has led to England becoming somewhat of a grave yard for young talent.
Wayne Rooney is an exception, why? because he survived, the England shirt weighs heavy and being a good player simply isn’t enough to support it’s gargantuan bulk.
The right mentality is needed, and with Harry Kane’s Premier League career still in its infancy it’s impossible to confirm whether he has the required mental toughness.Jack Wilshere was once touted as the next big thing, yet the jury’s out on whether he any longer possesses the requisite talent to feature in the England side let alone lead it as planned.
Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers are just two names to have blitzed past the under 21’s without so much of a goodbye, while the Manchester United duo of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling (once considered the future long term partnership at the heart of England’s defence) have been anything other than regulars.
For the simple fact is that we in England are so keen to see applicable, meaningful results that our youngsters completely miss their development phase that usually comes with the youth setup duty. In Italy & Spain culture dictates that things are nurtured, loved and treasured so as they’re absolutely perfect, in England it’s less about the individual and more about the collective, and that leaves many young players completely lost in the depths of the England monolith. We expect the world of our kids, they expect them to learn and that difference will forever see England chasing shadows at the elite level.Of course the notion of rushing a player through the ranks has a sound basis.
Indeed age is just a number, and it would be wrong to not include a player based on that fact alone, but such a risk must only be taken if the chance of failure is so minimal it’s virtually impossible.
Hopefully the culture will change, the nation has become far more invested in the development of youth players while UEFA’s new qualifying system leaves England’s EURO 2016 qualification a venerable certainty. As such, the need to rush through Messrs Kane and co is drastically curtailed.
A balancing act is required of course; many observers feel that Ross Barkley’s role for the national team should be greater than the sporadic 10 minutes he currently claims and this is despite his lack of youth experience. The crucial difference however is that Barkley has featured in the Premier League consistently for the past season or so, Kane has not.
For now, we should all stop trying to change and enhance Mr Harry Kane, let him gain experience and learn at a natural pace. If he’s nurtured correctly, we could have a special player on our hands, get it wrong and we’ll be etching his name into the tombstone of broken England hopefuls. If that happens, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.