Thursday, December 22, 2022

I’d have a cigar on if I was defending against Harry Kane at this World Cup…England have him WAY too deep

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HONESTLY, if I were a defender in this World Cup, I would love to play Harry Kane.

He doesn’t get behind the defenses and he doesn’t face you. He’s a connection player who always goes deeper to get the ball.

Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling on either side of him face people and get the ball to them, but they’re not chasing either and there are no crosses for Kane to threaten.

People probably think I’m after Harry after I also said we should take the captaincy from him and give it to Declan Rice.

But that’s not the case at all. And it’s not an Arsenal Spurs thing either.

We need Harry Kane, he’s obviously one of the best strikers in the world, you just have to look at his numbers, but if I were to play him as a central defender in Qatar I’d have a cigar on.

What I always feared was a fast striker that could penetrate the back gaps and force me to chase after them.

This scared me to death, I hated it, but Kane doesn’t. And if he ran towards me, I could handle that because he won’t have the pace to get past me.

George Graham used to hold a team briefing for us at Arsenal and wrote the strikers’ names on the tactics board, where he would say things like, ‘Get close to him, kick him, he’s not a threat behind you, push him in the other direction, job done.”

But when it came to players of my generation like Ian Rush, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke, we had to be careful and keep our wits about them because they were going to make those runs.

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On the other hand, Teddy Sheringham was no problem, with Teddy I would be tight all day. Alan Shearer was a handful with Blackburn in those earlier days when they won the league but he was easy to tag in his later years when he was less mobile.

It was tough and it was a struggle, but the actual marking was pretty easy.

Harry is 29 now and won’t get any faster, so like Shearer, he needs players to feed him.

Where I want to see Harry is on the edge of the box, holding the ball up, turning and putting it down like Shearer could do and Alan Smith did for us at Arsenal.

Then he has to go into the penalty area and hope that we finally start putting in crosses. That’s where I want to see him, not ten yards in my own half. He is of no use to anyone there.

We don’t play to his strengths. The only time he comes to life and poses a threat right now is in a set piece situation.

The rest of the squad can help by dragging our opponents around, stretching the game and making room for our attackers. That didn’t happen against the USA, who liked to tighten things up and whose central defenders didn’t break a sweat.

When Harry went deeper they didn’t even follow him, they left Tyler Adams to deal with him in midfield. Talk about having an easy life on defense.

If I had changed it against the US I would have dressed Callum Wilson and put Harry down to give them something else to think about.

We could also benefit from playing long balls occasionally. Teams have gotten into the habit of believing that you have to keep close possession of the ball all the time.

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