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The tap-in merchant: Why not? 

James Barbour
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
Modified 21 Dec 2019, 01:05 IST

Harry Kane celebrates yet another goal
Harry Kane celebrates yet another goal

Following England’s win against Kosovo, many congratulations were tweeted from the team’s Twitter account applauding the players.

Of course, one of those mentioned was captain Harry Kane, not only the scorer of 4 goals over the two qualifiers this international break but also a player that had just tied the record for most goals scored in a calendar year for the men’s national team.

Now, as the Raheem Sterling-Joe Gomez fracas illustrated, club rivalries are not always easy to put aside on the international stage, so it was no surprise to see fans from Spurs’ rivals having a dig at Kane in the comments.

After all, this is nothing new in football – and to be fair, most were in good humour with a grudging respect for a player that is genuinely an elite finisher and a world-class goalscorer.

However, there was one comment that really stood out to me. One tweet labelled Kane as a penalty and tap-in merchant, and my issue with this was that, despite what this individual intended, I do not personally see this as an insult. And yet people obviously believe it to be - something I find quite worrying.

As the game has evolved, the role of the striker has changed. They are expected to hold the ball up and bring others into play, something Kane is wonderful at by the way, and their goalscoring burden has been lessened slightly due to the expectation from inverted wingers and number 10s to also be hitting double figures for goals each season. But what is wrong with still having a fox in the box?

Gary Lineker is one of the most celebrated forwards of his generation, yet how many 30-yard screamers did he score? Would Manchester United be able to celebrate a treble without six-yard poachers such as Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? Even in more recent times, where have the majority of Sergio Aguero or Sterling’s goals come from?

The art of knowing when to arrive in the box or at the front or back post at exactly the right time is one of the most underrated skills in football, something that is much harder to teach then how to strike a ball from range.

See all the work Pep Guardiola has done with Sterling to help him get into positions to finish off one of his team’s free-flowing moves.

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Personally, I would rather my team boast a 30-goal-a-season striker that only scores from 12 yards or closer than a 15-goal-a-season striker that will only score worldies because, despite the goal of the month awards and endless replays on social media, they all still only count as one.

So, while it may be simplistic to label a player of Kane’s quality a penalty and tap-in merchant, what is wrong with being so anyway? 

Published 19 Nov 2019, 19:13 IST
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