Harry Kane is England’s captain and top scorer, which is great when things are going well, but when the striker is lost as was the case again on Friday against Scotland in the European Football Championship his mediocre performances seem to affect the whole squad.
England lacked ideas, creativity and vitality, and hit once on goal in the 0-0 draw which was owed to Scotland, who performed in contrast to what England did to compensate for the great superiority in capabilities with commitment and organization.
On Sunday, Kane went out near the end in the 1-0 win over Croatia, looking exhausted and some thinking the hot weather may have played a role in his mediocre performance.
In the first half, he fell back a lot in resemblance to what he does with Tottenham, but he was unable to find a way to influence the match, whether when possessing the ball or passing forward.
Kane pressed more after the break, but was easily dealt with by the Scotland defence.
And there could be a few players who when their level fluctuates depend on their fitness. When England were knocked out at Euro 2016 against Iceland, Kane played as if he was carrying a massive load on his back.
Two years later, he won the World Cup top scorer award, with his goals and impressive performances helping England reach the semi-finals.
Back home he again seemed sluggish, and yesterday Friday he was not able to influence in any way.
Kane is exhausted
Former player and now technical analyst, Graeme Souness, said that Kane was “a shadow of the player we know, he looks tired, looks completely out of shape, looks exhausted…needs to bounce back.”
And he was replaced by coach Gareth Southgate with Marcus Rashford after he involved Jack Grealish on the hour of playing, but they were the only changes despite the team’s great need for vitality and creativity.
Mason Mount’s long-range shot in the second half was England’s only goal of the match, and the post responded with a John Stones header at the start, though it failed to decipher Scotland’s superb defence.
A large number of players made the easy and safe choice, and although England were right to slow down early on after a strong start from Scotland, they failed miserably to capitalize on possession and were content to pass forward aimlessly.
The result is not a disaster for England, who have four points as do the leaders Czech before they meet in the final Group D on Tuesday, but the performance should worry Southgate.
Southgate is not the man to panic as he cements his feet in office, but that calm has often morphed into conservatism that has left fans and critics baffled.
Unless Kane suffers from an injury, he will most likely lead the attack against the Czech Republic and the following matches, but if England want to have any chance of progressing further in the tournament, the number “9” shirt must rediscover his lost vitality or make way for a teammate who still has This vitality.