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DANNY MURPHY: Harry Kane needs his Tottenham team-mates and manager Nuno Espirito Santo to help him

DANNY MURPHY: Harry Kane needs his Tottenham team-mates and manager Nuno Espirito Santo to help him – he’s lacking sharpness and confidence but nobody has his back

  • Harry Kane is struggling but the Tottenham striker needs more support 
  • Kane’s team-mates and his manager are giving him no assistance whatsoever 
  • The striker’s mentality cannot be doubted and he will eventually bounce back
  • Kane will fell awful at having every misplaced pass booed by his own crowd 
  • Tottenham were ponderous, allowing Manchester United to dominate 


For all Harry Kane’s experience, he’d have to be a robot not to be affected by the way Tottenham fans turned on him on Saturday night. He’ll feel awful at having every misplaced pass or failure to control the ball booed by his own crowd.

And, yes, I feel sympathy for him because it’s at times like this that you need your manager and team-mates to help pull you through. At the moment they are giving him no assistance whatsoever

If I had a stinker for Liverpool, Michael Owen or Steven Gerrard would normally take the pressure off by scoring the winner and I was allowed to get over any loss of form without the criticism that comes with defeat. If Kane doesn’t do it for Spurs, nobody will and he’s left carrying the can. 

Harry Kane is struggling for Tottenham but he isn’t getting any support from his colleagues

I’ve considered Kane a great player for years and this was the first time I’ve ever seen him struggling in terms of confidence. He was over-thinking things and looked as if he’d lost sharpness.

When Spurs were being well beaten in the second half, he tried to put in a cross that got intercepted. That’s when the dissent began. Then he lost the ball and made a foul trying to win it back and the volume went up. If he’d done the same thing when Spurs were winning and playing well, nobody would have cared.

Football does change quickly — look at United this weekend — and sometimes on small things. If one wonderful Kane through-ball to Son in the first half had led to a goal, the confidence might have come back. But Son Heung-min went too early and was offside and Aaron Wan-Bissaka put in a tackle in any case. 

This is the first time in his career that I've seen Tottenham star Kane lacking confidence

This is the first time in his career that I’ve seen Tottenham star Kane lacking confidence

Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo isn't doing enough to support Kane right now

Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo isn’t doing enough to support Kane right now

I am really worried for Spurs because that was a tepid performance, short on tactics and energy.

United were probably nervous after losing 5-0 to Liverpool.

But instead of Tottenham making a fast start, they were pragmatic and ponderous and allowed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team to grow into the game, then dominate.

It is up to a manager to give his best players the platform on which to express themselves. But what is Nuno Espirito Santo doing for Kane right now? Not enough.

If he wanted to play safe, he shouldn’t have picked Giovani Lo Celso, Lucas Moura, Son and Kane. But once he decided to go for that quartet, you might as well try to utilise them. Instead, there was no using the pace of Son and Moura down the sides to try and unsettle United and create space for Kane. It was a mish-mash.

Kane needs one of his pals to chip in and help until he’s firing again. But nobody is taking on that mantle. So Spurs are losing, not scoring and Kane will be blamed because he is the biggest name and tried to leave the club in the summer.

He can turn it around with resilience and hard work. He can’t rely on anyone else at the club at the moment so he’s going to have to start to change his own luck and hope the manager will switch to a style that is more conducive to making chances.

Nuno's surprising decision to take off Lucas Moura led to the atmosphere turning toxic

Nuno’s surprising decision to take off Lucas Moura led to the atmosphere turning toxic

I couldn’t believe it when Nuno took off Moura when he was the one player in a Spurs shirt who looked capable of having a go.

That is when the stadium began to turn toxic. But having watched Kane’s career I don’t doubt his mentality and firmly believe he will come again, if given the tools by Nuno.

A lot of the criticism being aimed at Spurs today will have been thrown at United a week ago and Solskjaer deserves praise for responding, as Nuno must now.

He switched to three at the back and Bruno Fernandes played as a genuine midfielder alongside Fred and Scott McTominay rather than floating as a No 10. He showed he has the athleticism and intelligence to do both sides of a midfielder’s job without losing the creativity.

The solidity of that trio in the engine room allowed the wing-backs to throw in the crosses that Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani thrived on. Ronaldo was wonderful throughout.

Tottenham were pragmatic and ponderous, which allowed Manchester United to dominate

Tottenham were pragmatic and ponderous, which allowed Manchester United to dominate

By contrast, Nuno was tentative and his team played in a manner that made it open season on pantomime villain Kane. Just as Solskjaer did for Ronaldo on Saturday night, the Spurs manager has to change things to get the best out of his talisman.

Their three Premier League games in November are against Everton, Leeds and Burnley, with an international break sandwiched in between. Those are not the toughest fixtures this league has to offer but certainly not the easiest.

Nuno badly needs to give this Tottenham team an identity otherwise it won’t be the last time you hear discontent around the stadium.

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