Why is Harry Kane struggling to deal with the pressure?

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Tottenham supporters will be even more concerned about the form of star striker Harry Kane after their 1-0 win at Sunderland on Sunday.

It was a late Ryan Mason strike that secured the win for Spurs, but yet another 90 minutes passed where Kane could not find the net. Costel Pantilimon denied the Englishman right before the final whistle, but it was yet another instance of Kane hesitating before applying the finish.

So what is holding back Harry Kane?


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There is the argument that defences have different expectations for the threat Kane poses. At the beginning of the campaign, he was just a youthful talent given a chance in the first team by Mauricio Pocchettino. A year later he is one of the feared poachers of the league that every team must watch out for.

Pundits have discussed whether teams close Kane down more quickly and mark him tighter this season, and that added difficulty has thrown the Englishman off.

Why have the goals dried up?

That may be true, but Kane has been raising his game consistently since he started his first game for Spurs. Over the course of last season, he became better with the ball at his feet, and more confident when finishing. Eventually, he will raise his game to cope with the added precautions opponents take when they face him.

The other thing that may have slowed Kane's progress this year is his updated role in Spurs' squad. Manager Mauricio Pocchettino has recognised Kane's progress and geared his team's style of play around the Englishman in an effort to maximise his potential.

Kane now receives the ball further from goal, and is provided with more service due to the attacking play being through the middle. He has gone from being the goal poacher, to the team's star forward and number 10.

Christian Eriksen is the advanced playmaker in the Tottenham team, but Kane has been asked to play just as large of a role in attack. His dribbles per game are up by 25% this season, and Kane is not a dribbler. He is simply given the ball in a deeper role than he was in the past and that means he has to do more to carve out chances for himself.

In 2015-16, Kane has taken around the same number of shots as he did last season, at 3.4. The difference is that last season, he averaged 0.6 more shots on target. So far, less than one shot per game Kane takes actually tests the keeper. That could be a question of nerves, and it could also just be Kane's poor luck.

Kane becoming a more complete player

The question of why Kane cannot score at the moment is a complicated one. But it does have an answer. 

Mauricio Pocchettino is giving him a more complete role in the hope that he will adapt and become a better player as a result. The pieces are moving into place, but the only thing missing at the moment is the finishing touch.

Kane may become a complete forward in the future, and he may never end up being more than a one season wonder. If the former happens, he could become very dangerous.

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Tottenham Hotspur
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