The ask from Jose Mourinho to Gareth Southgate was simple, protect Harry Kane and the plan was seemingly working until Harry Maguire went and sodded it all up.
Well before Harry Kane had even stepped foot on the turf at St. George’s Park the first shots had been fired by Jose Mourinho toward England Men’s National Team coach Gareth Southgate. Mourinho was loud and clear that Southgate needed to protect the prized asset of club and country after he had played parts of four games over eight days for Tottenham. Mourinho’s pressure or Southgate’s common sense seemed to prevail on Kane and club’s behalf, until Harry Maguire decided to get tossed and ruined things for Kane and his national team.
Perfect Plan for Harry Kane
Southgate to his credit and maybe some of Dominic Calvin-Lewin’s form did not ask Harry Kane to play three games for his country. Just as Mourinho promised not to play his talisman in any friendlies, the first of three matches over the fortnight for England was a friendly with Wales, where Kane was not even on the bench. Score one for the health of Tottenham’s most prized asset.
The second match for England was against Toby Alderweireld and the World’s number one team in Belgium. Eric Dier started, but Harry Kane did not start and only played the 24 minutes of the match, getting a little run out and helping the team see out a big win. In 180 minutes of football, Harry Kane had only played less than half an hour, it was working out great. We had heard some rumors that Kane had some muscle soreness, which was chalked up to fatigue.
As the final of the three games neared it was obvious Harry Kane was going to start and was likely to play much of the match if not the full 90. No problem, again, when you add it all up, approximately 115 of 270 available minutes or just over 40% of the available minutes was a good total for Kane over the period as he worked to recover and recharge for another tough stretch. The plan was perfect, until it was not, costing Kane valuable energy and likely his team the game itself, which England lost 0-1.
United Seeking Revenge on Tottenham?
From the MOST cynical of perspectives, maybe Maguire wanted to get tossed so Harry Kane would have to overexert himself. From the perspective of reality Harry Maguire continues to look a distracted footballer who two clumsy challenges cost his team first place and threatens their advancement in the group. Instead of sitting in first on 10 points, England is third on 7, leaving Kane and everyone else to pick up the pieces.
Maguire made two terrible, terrible challenges and deservedly got the two yellows that go with them, which put Kane and nine of the players joining him on the pitch in a real tough spot. Instead of working to try and control the opportunities to press and pressure Denmark into potential opportunities, England and Harry Kane were left to chase the ball the force the pressure much of the match, the last thing Mourinho and Tottenham wanted.
The fact of the matter is that playing down a man puts an additional strain on a team and the players involved. That was additional strain that Harry Kane did not need, as Tottenham face a busy, but winnable stretch of their campaign, before the next international break in November. I for one am glad Kane played, he looked a bit rusty and off his game, which the minutes will help to alleviate, just wish it would not have been under the circumstance of playing a man down for nearly an hour.