Ryan Mason insists Tottenham are not just 'the Harry Kane team' - and numbers back him up

By Sports Desk April 23, 2021

Ryan Mason insists Tottenham are not simply "the Harry Kane team" as he waits for news of the striker's fitness before the EFL Cup final.

Kane is a doubt for Sunday's game against Manchester City having sustained an ankle injury last week and failed to train since.

If the England captain is able to feature, though, he would come up against a side managed by Pep Guardiola, who famously referred to Spurs as "the Harry Kane team" in 2017.

Kane has been involved in 47 goals in 43 games for Tottenham in all competitions this season and would be sorely missed this weekend, but discussion of Guardiola's comments prompted interim head coach Mason to highlight the team's "combined effort".

"I think when you've got one of the best players in the world, I think you can say that," Mason said. "I think of Barcelona with Messi, Real Madrid with Ronaldo.

"When guys are posting up crazy numbers and scoring and creating moments, big moments in big games, it's normal that your mind thinks they're the most important players, of course.

"But we're a team, a squad, a group of players. Whoever's out on that football pitch needs to come together, needs to work, to fight together, to compete to get a positive result.

"Of course, if you have one of the best number nines in the world, people will talk, but, no, it's a combined effort of everyone involved, that's for sure."

While Mason is assessing Kane "hour by hour" and will undoubtedly pick the striker if he is fit, Spurs have actually fared better - numbers-wise - when their talisman has been out this season.

Tottenham have won 53.5 per cent of the 43 matches Kane has played this season, scoring 2.0 goals per game.

When he has not been involved - including in Mason's debut win against Southampton - Tottenham have six wins from nine (66.7 per cent) and have scored 2.8 goals per game.

Mason also has other attacking stars to turn to, with Son Heung-min matching Kane's 16 assists and posting 36 goal involvements.

Lucas Moura (17), Gareth Bale (14) and Carlos Vinicius (13) are next on that list of goal involvements and could each have a part to play if Kane cannot make it.

But the 27-year-old Kane, who has attempted 168 shots and created 52 chances this season, will be determined to make the Spurs team as he waits for his first piece of silverware at senior level.

Indeed, as long as Tottenham's drought - since 2008 - continues, there will be fears Kane could move on in pursuit of glory elsewhere.

"He will want to win trophies, no doubt about it," ex-Spurs man Brad Friedel told Stats Perform News this week.

"He's a very ambitious player, obviously one of the best, and everyone can see his goals tally and watch him play to say that."

Mason - appointed this week - becomes the latest man to try to end that wait. He will be the first coach to take charge of a major cup final in England as early as his second game in charge since Luton Town's Syd Owen made his bow in the 1959 FA Cup final.

"I think every club wants to win trophies. That's normal," Mason said. "It's very difficult in this country, probably the most difficult country in the world to win trophies. We've seen that.

"We've been close to that over the past few years, but unfortunately we haven't been able to get over the line."

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    It took the man in the waistcoat to turn the tanker.

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    Greg Dyke was a newly appointed chairman of the English Football Association (FA) when he declared in a famous 2013 speech: "English football is a tanker that needs turning."

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    It was not Dyke who selected Southgate after Roy Hodgson's four-year reign ended and successor Sam Allardyce lasted just one game, an ill-fated choice.

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    His credibility for the England post had been questioned, with former Tottenham and West Ham boss Harry Redknapp dismissive of the notion that Southgate would know all about the English system.

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    Dyke said Roy Hodgson's England were "just scared" as they lost to Iceland at the Euro 2016 last-16 stage, heading home humiliated by relative minnows. Hodgson promptly resigned.

    "It's the same in all sport," Dyke said. "Really talented sportsmen can just freeze. That's what happens."

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    Southgate has been a revelation: England reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, losing out to Croatia, before surging through to the Euro 2020 title match, a first major final since Bobby Moore led the team to World Cup glory.

    Along the way, the man who was a scapegoat for England's Euro 96 exit, when he missed a crucial semi-final shoot-out penalty against Germany, has become a national treasure.

    "Southgate, you're the one" sing England fans nowadays, while his uptake of a waistcoat on the touchline became a symbol of stylistic significance at the World Cup in Russia, sparking a rush of high street sales and analysis by the fashion media.

    The England boss told the BBC: "If you had said to the players when I started at Crystal Palace that I was going to be upheld as the sartorial model for the country, you'd have been hooted out of the training ground."

    How has he developed a new England?

    Once Southgate was handed the job permanently, he was able to outline his manifesto. "When I played, particularly in 1996, there were captains through the team that were captains of their club," he said.

    The England starting XI for the fateful Iceland game in 2016 contained one club captain: Manchester United's Wayne Rooney. For the team's most recent game, the 10-0 drubbing of San Marino, Southgate named a defensive unit consisting of three club skippers: Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings, Wolves' Conor Coady and Manchester United's Harry Maguire.

    Harry Kane captains England but not his club, Tottenham. Southgate rates him as a leader par excellence. Jordan Henderson has built up years of experience in skippering Liverpool and is another England regular and vice-captain of the team.

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    A competitive record of 44 wins, 14 draws and 10 defeats in 68 games gives him a winning record of 64.7 per cent. Of England managers with more than one game in charge, that is second only to Fabio Capello's 66.7 per cent (42 games, 28 wins, eight draws, six defeats). World Cup winner Ramsey achieved a 61.1 per cent win record from 113 games.

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    Hodgson's Euro 2016 squad contained players plucked exclusively from the Premier League, with his 23-man group including stars from 11 clubs.

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    Making Dyke's vision a reality

    The acid test comes at major tournament level, and to date Southgate's England are showing up on the big stage – at least until it comes to the crunch. They stood widely accused in both the Croatia semi-final and the Italy final of retreating into their shell, having taken the lead early in each game and then failed to build on the strong start.

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    They hit 125 of these in the Euros, with the Czech Republic next on the list with 96. Just 27 of England's launches were judged to be successful, and Southgate may reflect on the fact Italy played just 52 such hit-and-hopes on their way to the title.

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    Turns out, rather a lot in a short space of time. The tanker has turned.

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