Harry Kane saved Tottenham Hotspur this weekend. He did it not through brilliant play or amazing skill, but through supreme confidence and a little bit of luck. It was exactly what Tottenham needed. Prior Kane's introduction, Tottenham looked in danger of slipping to a third consecutive defeat. Instead, Kane made an instant impact and as a result of his efforts and influence, Tottenham scored two goals.
Tottenham's opener, through Nacer Chadli, was almost purely down to the threat Kane poses in the box. Earlier in the half, the young Englishman got himself free for a header off a corner. The resulting shot was right down the throat of Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan, but it was enough to make the Villa defense take notice. Now, in the 83rd minute, the Aston Villa defense swarmed to a, surprisingly, loosely marked Kane. The ball, delivered by Erik Lamela, sailed well over Kane and the defenders and landed at the feet of Chadli, whose maker was nowhere to be found. The Belgian winger/forward/something poked home and Tottenham were suddenly level.
Kane's defining moment, though, came later in the match. After Erik Lamela had sent a free kick curling over the bar from the right channel a few minutes earlier, Kane took it upon himself to take the next kick, this time from almost straight on a few years outside of the penalty area. The best part wasn't the free kick, it was the way Kane took the ball, planted it in the turf and told Tottenham Hotspur's record signing that, no, he was going to take it and he didn't particularly care what the Argentine had to say about it.
The camera pulled in tight on Kane, his eyes cast down at the ball, as though focusing all his energy into this one kick. Lamela or someone else must have been talking to him, trying to convince him not to take it, but he just shook his head and said "I'm making it." The announcers, rightfully so for once, compared Kane's stance to Ronaldo, Bale, and Drogba. Square to the ball, feet spread shoulder width apart, shoulders slightly hunched, look of sheer determination plastered across his face. For once, Harry Kane's mouth was even closed. As a fan watching, you knew. You could tell that this, this right here, was the moment everything changed.
What happened next doesn't actually matter. Kane could have skyed the shot, he could have sent it right at Guzan, or he could have hit the most absurd free kick ever. It wouldn't have mattered in the slightest. At first, I thought he done the latter, but in fact, Kane was gifted a wonderful deflection that wrong-footed Guzan and sent the ball flying into the net. The traveling Spurs supporters erupted. Kane's Tottenham teammates basked in the glory of their new golden god. Harry Kane was beatific.
I'm firmly of the belief that the results don't matter for Tottenham this season. What matters is finding a cohesive team; making sure good players play well in the new system; and most of all helping Harry Kane reach his potential. As I said, Kane's free kick could have gone anywhere and it wouldn't have mattered to me. The fact that it went in only improved the moment. Kane showed, in that thirty-second window spent standing over the ball, the he has the confidence that all of Tottenham's other strikers lack. His play, thus far, has demonstrated that he has the skills that none of our other strikers have. The combination of skill and confidence necessitates Kane's inclusion as Tottenham's first choice striker.
If we learn nothing else from Tottenham's lackluster performance at Villa Park, we should learn that Harry Kane needs to be playing regularly. We should be patient with him and not expect him to bang in goals at his current rate, but we should still be giving him the opportunity to at least try. Many are preaching patience with Kane and I think that's fine. Patience doesn't mean that Kane shouldn't be playing every match. Patience merely means not expecting superhuman efforts from a 21 year-old striker every time he takes the pitch. It means that we should play Harry Kane and hold onto our hats because what happens next is bound to be fun, but we shouldn't expect him to be the league's top scorer.
I don't feel like I'm making an overstatement when I say that, after the start Kane has had to this season, we could be entering another time, in our Tottenham Hotspur fandom, much like the emergence of Gareth Bale. Everyone knew how good Bale was, less are aware of how good Kane is and can be. Kane, however, has the talent, and most importantly, the desire to put this team on his back and carry them to victories. That's the kind of player Spurs need and the kind we've been searching for since Bale departed. Here's hoping he starts getting the chance.