Harry Kane's seemingly improbable rise from loaned out academy fodder to Spurs number one striker is nothing short of miraculous when considering our expectations are mostly consumed by the glamorous marque signings of any given window. I'm not going to break down his journey or discuss his development from an early age to the present day because to be perfectly honest I have not seen enough of his youth playing days. I've placed my faith in the analysis of others that had witnessed his performances at various levels before last years breakthrough.
In recent seasons, thanks again to the power of social media and Youtube, we've become far more aware of the progression of the developmental squads at Tottenham. There is so much more focus and information available. The proposed ethos within the club was to promote from within which has taken the spotlight since we moved from the Chigwell to the state of the art Hotspur Way in Enfield. Even if it's flattered to deceive until very recently. We know so much more about the pool of players and with the positive cultural change with the coaching we are now seeing them make the grade to the first team with effect rather than with desperation.
Kane, at first contact, was a face staring back at me in Football Manager (prior to social media's opus of communication) which was the best way to know what youth players existed at your club. I based my initial considerations on the fact that 'Harry Kane' rolled off the tongue (I worry about our double-barrelled players after Archibald-Henville's failure). Yes, it's nonsensical. It's why I blog and don't write professionally about False 9s and zonal marking.
I then started taking a little more notice of Kane. It's like when you meet a girl in a club or bar and find yourself sort of attracted to her. She has a cute name. You think 'She's alright'. It's instinct. It's based on superficial, cosmetic elements because there isn't a body of evidence to work with. Not that any relationship I had ended with a body of evidence. Or police sirens. Sometimes you can tell if it isn't the right fit straight from the off. But it's those times when it shouldn't fit, the times when the imperfections attract you to look deeper, that keep you interested. It's the ones that you least expect that end up surprising you. Like the slightly awkward looking girl in the group that turns out to be the quick witted and intelligent one.
Then the likes of @WindyCOYS (Spurs youth obsessive) and others privy to staring at kids as a pastime informed me three seasons back that Kane had more to offer than just being another lost number in the depths of the squad. Even when Clive Allen at the time (when coaching at Spurs) said Kane was a natural, I still never considered the possibility of him breaking into the first team and being anything more than a third choice backup.
So many times we've seen failures because the gulf in class is too much for them to handle. A damning failure, not of the players, but the structure and methodology that has produced them as the only viable options. Perhaps this generation is the new breed we've been waiting for. Not a single diamond (like Ledley King) but a trio or more of gems. Players synced with technicality rather than just all heart and effort. Players with industry, skill and love for the shirt.
I was still underwhelmed when he finally broke into the side last season in Europa games. This being the standard defensive stance protecting myself from historical disappointment. The mindset with most is 'how can this kid be the answer when he looks so out of place with the internationals that are playing around him?' Another stance taken is the one where we can't possibly envisage success - genuine success - to be birthed from within. Mainly because we've seen so little of it in the past.
This is where the filtering of expectancy tends to distort the reality. Because we haven't spent x amount of millions on him and thanks largely to the fact that recent youth players have been shifted out of the club (O'Hara, Livermore), I made an assumption based on his early first team performances without considering ye fabled bedding in period.
The transition is something we don't tend to embrace with patience. We have a hard enough time doing so with expensive imports that struggle to find their rhythm. Kane did look a touch one dimensional. There was something there but not enough of it to define him. Similar to young Tommy Carroll. Talent is evident but not with an abundance of strength and conviction. Too lightweight. Too timid. What type of player is he? Is he really good enough to play for us? And so on. All the pessimistic soundbites because we believe that youth products at Spurs tend to be filler that end up on another clubs bench two years later.
Still, I held back. I wasn't convinced because we don't always allow our kids to grow in confidence and find that defining moment that elevates them from pretenders to contenders. Mainly thanks to the forced commitment we have to the players we pay big money to.
Kane, with thanks to Pochettino's man management, slowly worked his way from the bench to the first team with the type of determination (accompanied by patience and protection from our head coach) that now has me so convinced that I'm probably doing the opposite of what I started with; I didn't quite believe because I hadn't seen enough and now I believe with enough comfort to tag him as fully fledged prospect - rather than this being an illusion of form.
He works hard in training. So many have echoed his ethic, going back onto the training pitch to work on his shooting. Before his breakthrough many stated he was the best finisher at the club. Okay, that might not be saying much considering the other players we have, but still...this is a youth player and we don't strike lucky that often. If a youth player is pushing out an experienced one and is impressing the elder statesmen at coaching level then this isn't hype. This is the bellowing sound of a new cockerel that wants to rule the roost.
He slowly demonstrated he wasn't a target man. As displayed at U21 level for England, he can score a variety of goals. He's a footballer more than he is a specific position or trait. What type of player is he? Who cares? Let him be every single player he wishes to be. Yes, it's early days but the evidence has been sensational in terms of belief. The belief he bleeds and the belief he is giving me. Why not be overly optimistic about a THFC youth player in the same way we laud the fully branded 100k per week stars?
He has energy and bullish intent. It's still raw but when he has the ball and runs forward he's able to make things happen, creating for himself and others. He needs to work on when to release the ball (rather than hold on and be too greedy) but this is a natural growing pain which will be helped with the teams fluidity improving over the season. He will also evolve as his reputation grows and opposing players get stuck into him. It's not really that extraordinary. His learning curve are the games he's able to build momentum with. Much like Mason and Bentaleb have accepted as their platform to improve and bind together our youthful centre-point.
I love how he drops deep. He doesn't look out of place as a number 10. He has displayed solid characteristics. Sitting back, aware and supportive and working within the build up before seeking an attack in and around the penalty box. We've all seen him start a move and then seek to finish it. He doesn't lack courage, what with his insistence to take free-kicks. I love that. It's everything I want to see from a player in a Spurs shirt and it's nicely packaged.
He's been impressive. He's not punching above his weight or pretending to be something he can't possibly live up to. It's been a steady ascension. Like I said earlier, you know when it can't possibly fit. Kane is dismantling the preconceptions we've built around our seasoned expectancy. It's been so refreshing it's even helped to reignite the atmosphere at the Lane.
I can think of people laughing at the suggestion, the comparison that he was in some ways similar to Teddy Sheringham. Although he's obviously nowhere near that level he's proved that we should never judge a book by its cover. With each turn of the page, we're left scratching our heads with wonderment as Kane free-styles with poetic thunderclaps.
He's good in possession, he's excellent without the ball. He can score tidy, he can score untidy. You'd expect all top class players (or ones wishing to be above average one day) to possess these fundamentals but it isn't always evident for most. Kane's confidence has been key with him showcasing examples of his all-round play. We now have a body of evidence to work with...and it's killer.
The two goals against Chelsea pushed Kane from the boy done good to the man be born. Again, I'm not about to build a statue of him in my back garden but unlike some players we've seen in recent years that have struggled to show us a competent level of progression - Kane has done just that. What makes it impossible to dismiss is that he completely believes he should be there. He loves the fact he is and he's wearing Lilywhite. He appears to have no vanity, no ego with his fledgling personal achievements. He's not fazed with the opposition. In fact, perhaps because of the mess we've made of the Bale £100M and our lacklustre revival (which is only now beginning to take flight) - Kane might simply be lucky. The circumstance of this season has been perfect for his introduction. No constraints, just the freedom to express. With the likes of Christian Eriksen finding his groove, it's almost the perfect schooling as the team's dynamics improve along with the players.
We don't tend to prioritise youth players in the same way we do for our marketable 'superstars'. That is changing. Kane is another one of our majestic accidents. Consider what may have been if Adebayor and Soldado were free-scoring. As they are not, it feels less of an accident and more of a philosophy if you appreciate Tim Sherwood's emphasis on the academy (be it with less finesse) and Pochettino's desire and discipline to take advantage of the uncorrupted. Players with talent, but equally so with the willingness to follow instructions.
Mason and Bentaleb might not have the experience others do and might not even be better pound for pound compared to their counterparts but their ability to focus is one that has allowed them the time to develop right in amongst it. There's no hiding when you're having to mature in league games.
The one thing that stands out above and beyond it all is the cult of Kane. Because he's an academy player. A Tottenham supporter. The fact he hasn't got a hefty price tag or that there is no true expectancy from him makes him not just one of our own but also forms the personified two finger salute to the established template of what we at Spurs have come to consider what is acceptable. Our own vanity and ego has been destroyed by this Chingford lad, born in E17, who doesn't care for the politics and opinions that dominate so much of the games narrative about what should and shouldn't be perceived as righteous.
He's scored against the lesser opposition. He's becoming more and more instrumental against the bread and butter of the Premier League. He's proved he can turn up against quality too. I still have no expectations. I'm just going to stand back and look on with support as he continues to cement his role.
He's gone from the guy that kicked the ball out of play at Old Trafford and then spitting on himself to the tormentor of the Champions elect. He's not what we expected. He's everything we need. Harry Kane. Saviour. Turns out the awkward looking one in the group is a bit fit.