Glenn Hoddle has given Harry Kane a pass over his poor form this season, instead pointing out three Tottenham players Antonio Conte must improve to bring the best out of their talisman.
The dismal displays of Harry Kane in a Tottenham shirt this season caught many by surprise. Kane enjoyed arguably his finest season to date last year. His willingness to drop deep and dictate the play into the final third saw him crack double figures in assists to go alongside his 23 league goals.
But after his botched transfer to Manchester City in the summer, Kane has looked a shadow of his former self this season – in Spurs colours at least.
The club’s final third struggles undoubtedly contributed to the sacking of Nuno Espirito Santo. High on new boss Antonio Conte’s agenda will be prising the lethal best out of his centre-forward.
And speaking to talkSPORT (via the Express), former Tottenham player and manager Glenn Hoddle has identified three off-form players crucial to stoking Kane’s fires.
But first, Hoddle explained why he believes Kane is struggling, saying: “Kane came deeper last season and he was fantastic. He was like a no.10 and a no.9, he was doing two roles and doing them expertly well.
“He thought he was going [to Manchester City] but he didn’t and mentally you’ve got to overcome that. That’s where I think he is at the moment.
“The other players in the squad have got to come to the fore. Playing as a no.9 and a no.10, he got more assists than anyone in the league and he scored the goals as well so the other players have got to pick him up this season and take him to another level.”
On which problem players Conte must address to aid Kane, Hoddle added: “Their midfield is not right.
“Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is an excellent holding midfielder but then you’ve got to have midfield creativity.
“[Giovani] Lo Celso and [Tanguy] Ndombele have got to improve, I don’t see them as players that are going to be consistent, that are going to create, that know the game – in many ways they don’t understand the game as I see it.
“Ndombele’s got wonderful skills but he’s a player that’s too much off-the-cuff. He can do wonderful things with a football but we all used to do that in the playground – there’s no shape when you’re playing there.”
Hoddle points to Dele Alli with a question
Hoddle then namechecked Dele Alli. The 25-year-old has been linked with a move away after his dramatic downturn in form over recent seasons has shown no sign of abating. Newcastle are one side who have drawn regular links.
But rather than leaving, Hoddle hinted Alli still has a future at Spurs after insisting his best moments came when combining with Kane.
“I’d ask him what he thought his best asset is as a midfielder player – I’d like him to give me the answer,” Hoddle continued.
“If he didn’t know I’d explain to him but I think he’d say ‘I’m a goalscoring midfield player’, that’s what I’d want him to say.
“That was when he was at his very best. He’d pick off where Harry Kane would make runs and he’d go into areas into the box.”