Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino ‘not sure’ Harry Kane is back to his best despite starring against Huddersfield

The result at the John Smith’s Stadium was rarely in doubt as soon as Harry Kane’s wonderful leap allowed him to head home the impressive Kieran Trippier’s cross on 25 minutes

Andy Kelly
Monday 01 October 2018 06:59
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Tottenham 2018/19 Premier League profile

On Ryder Cup weekend perhaps it was appropriate that it was a golfing truism which most resonated.

“Driving for show, putting for dough” goes the saying on the fairways and greens, and while goal-shy Huddersfield offered plenty of “show” – enjoying the majority of possession and keeping Spurs goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga in relatively regular employ – there was only man putting the ball where it mattered to secure “the dough”.

The result at the John Smith’s Stadium was rarely in doubt as soon as Harry Kane’s wonderful leap allowed him to head home the impressive Kieran Trippier’s cross on 25 minutes. Huddersfield have scored just one home league goal since 11 February, and none now in the last six, so their chances of victory looked fairly hopeless from that point.

Any lingering doubt ended less than 10 minutes later when Danny Rose elicited a brief tug on his shirt from substitute Florent Hadergjonaj as he advanced into the box. Kane stepped up to convert a rather soft penalty with the minimum of fuss.

Backed by a wonderfully committed support, the hosts kept going, with Gazzaniga needed to repel a superb effort from Chris Lowe just inside his post in the first half and turn a strike from Isaac Mbenza away from the top corner late on. But the three points always looked to be returning to London as soon as Kane had his say, sending Spurs into the top four and leaving David Wagner’s men rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table.

Kane’s double matched that produced by the striker on the same ground on the same weekend last year, bizarrely making him the top Premier League scorer at the John Smith’s. Then it took his season’s tally to 13 for club and country while these were goals four and five of a season where his fitness and sharpness have been called into question.

Even his manager is not sure if he is yet back to his absolute best. Mauricio Pochettino, who must wait to see the extent of muscle injuries suffered by Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele, said: “I’m not sure, maybe similar but it’s difficult to see if he is or not.

“I think he’s one of the best strikers in the world and of course I’m happy for him to hit the net because I think he deserved it because of how hard he worked and happy for us because it adds two points more on the table.”

Laurent Depoitre came closest for Huddersfield, rattling the under side of the bar with a left foot volley in first half injury time, and felt his side had produced one of their best performances of the season.

“We did not have any luck. But we hope that changes soon. I didn’t see the penalty. I would have to look again. I do not know if it was a penalty or not. But Harry Kane does not miss a lot of penalties. He is a great striker, one of the best in this moment. He proved it again here. Even if we defend well against him, two chances for him were enough to bring two goals.”

Pochettino knows that tougher tests lie ahead with a crucial Champions League tie on Wednesday against a Barcelona side who followed defeat at Leganes in midweek with a home draw against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

Harry Kane returned to form against Huddersfield (Reuters)

“We are going to fight. You know when Barcelona play Champions League it’s completely different. The competition is completely different. They are going to be so motivated to play against us in Wembley.”

For Wagner it will be back to the training ground as he seeks to find the goals that might keep his side in the division but he remains totally calm, even if he must surely covet a striker like Kane?

“For this we need an investor!” he joked. “I don’t have to think about something that is not possible. We created – for a team like us against a team like Tottenham – enough opportunities. I can’t ask for more, I can ask that we use them better and I can ask for more luck as well.

“I don’t ask to have a Harry Kane in my team, I’m absolutely fine with the players I have, with the group we have. I know and everybody has seen the potential in the performances. The atmosphere in the stadium and the stats speak for themselves. But at the moment we don’t get the reward and this is a results business.”

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