"Forest. Clough. The City Ground. You have to come mate!"
With that being shouted into my ear at the club Friday night, I had to come. It was Nottingham Forest-Millwall at 3 p.m, a proper Championship match. The game had the energy of a true relegation six-pointer and the skill level to match--long balls, long balls, and more long balls.
In tribute to my friend Joe's love of the Mighty Forest, I wore red. But as much as I pleaded my love for Robbie Findley and former Spurs not-so-legend Andy Reid, there was one man who had my focus on the pitch. Harry Kane.
Kane, the 18 year old striker on loan with Millwall from Tottenham, is arguably the most notable striker to come through the Tottenham academy since arguably Peter Crouch. Kane first start setting hearts aflutter with his strong academy performances, and a late-season loan to Leyton Orient last season was marked by 5 goals in 18 appearances.
Kane was paired up top in a typical 4-4-2 formation on Saturday, playing the role of the number 9. There's two things I immediately noticed about Kane were how much bigger he looks in person. He resembles a bit of a fitter Grant Holt. But correspondingly though, Kane is slower than I had realized. I thought his fitness would have Kane racing past a weak Forest defense, but Kane struggled to break free.
Kane's passing vision really stood out. Kane was consistently willing to come deep and pick up the ball. Kane immediately looked up field and was consistently able to identify the best pass. The quality of the passing itself was not that great, but it seems reasonable that Kane's service will improve as he plays more matches.
Harry Kane's attacking instincts though were must disappointing. There's nothing more important for a striker than getting in the right spots and picking the best places to attack, but Kane was consistently driven off balance and into the corners. Kane needs to be more instinctive and use his size to create space as he attacks the net.
From the footage I've seen of Kane, it's clear that he has a quality shot and some strong finishing ability. However, what was most evident on Saturday was that Kane hasn't figured out how to create for himself yet. Kane had showed the same problem in Europa League this season.
It is obviously dangerous to base too much off a player from one performance. But you can evaluate a player much better seeing them in person. In Kane, I see a striker with strong scoring abilities, but very far away from being an effective Premiership player. He's a tweener, without some of the size and skill needed in a target man and without the pace of a second striker. Tottenham's system has long most needed a number 9, and Kane is just not that type of player yet.
Going forward, I would put little trust in Kane being with the Tottenham Hotspur squad in 2012-13. Kane is not yet a player who can dominate the Championship, and until he is (like Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker) Kane needs to stay on that level. Kane should get a full-season loan with a more ambitious Championship side that plays better football next season. Harry needs to be the integral goal scorer for a side and shoulder that pressure. Maybe 2013-14 will be Kane's year to shine in a Spurs shirt, but next season seems it may be a bit too soon.