By David Horrocks, MSc Football Coaching & Analysis Programme Leader at Etihad Campus, Mike Phelan and UCFB Alumni James Radcliffe

David has recently submitted a PhD thesis on elite performance completed with players and staff from Manchester United Football Club. The thesis has two published papers to date: Manchester United and Serial Winning, and Gary Neville – A Case Study. David also has a first class degree in Sport Psychology from the University of Central Lancashire.

Each time the world cup comes around, new stars are born, the transfer market goes crazy and the world is an open mic stage to stardom for every footballer involved. Who will be this year’s previously unidentified flying object and earn a big money transfer to one of Europe’s football powerhouses just like Colombia’s James Rodriguez did in Brazil 2012.

The Sensible Soccer World Cup blog will bring scouting know how direct from the battlefield of English Premier League recruitment directors and chief scouts. The blog will be opening the lid on just who is being watched ahead of Russia’s six-week footballing bonanza.

Harry Kane
When Harry Kane first came onto the main stage of the Premier League towards the latter end of the 2013/14 season and then began making a name for himself in the 2014/15 season, he was predictably branded with the ‘one-season wonder’ tag-line. Prior to and possibly during this tournament question marks still hang over England’s captain. For many of the world’s ardent footballing population the big questions are. Can he now go on and have a career of mixing it with the world’s greatest? And, can he score at the highest levels?

Following his initial burst onto The Premier League scene Kane has certainly proceeded to remove the ‘one season wonder’ narrative by scoring 20 plus goals in each ensuing campaign. In The FA Premier League Kane continued at pace and consecutively won the golden boot in both seasons 2015-16 and 2016-17. His 140 goals in 213 appearances for Spurs to date is a substantial return, and with such remarkable figures comes the inevitable links to the footballing superpowers.

Although tied to a six-year contract at Tottenham speculation from the likes of Real Madrid, Paris St Germain and Manchester United will always linger.

To add fuel to this already burning fire Kane has well and truly announced himself on the world’s greatest stage at Russia 2018 with 5 goals in the first two games. Many may point to the fact that two of these are penalties and one a blind back heel so let’s look a little deeper into Kane’s scoring record and see what the statistics are telling us.

The elite or world class footballer tends to be able to continue and lift these feats to the European and World stages with mirroring or certainly similar statistical returns in Champions League and competitive international football.

Champions league football itself has been very much a two-man monopoly (Messi/Ronaldo) over the last decade. The leading scorers dating back to 2008 rather surprisingly has only been penetrated once (Neymar) in recent times.

Season Top Scorer Goals
2016/17 Cristiano Ronaldo 12
2015/16 Cristiano Ronaldo 16
2014/15 Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior 10
2013/14 Cristiano Ronaldo 17
2012/13 Cristiano Ronaldo 12
2011/12 Lionel Messi 14
2010/11 Lionel Messi 12
2009/10 Lionel Messi 8
2008/09 Lionel Messi 9
2007/08 Cristiano Ronaldo 8

Internationally Kane has 18 goals from 26 games compared with Messi 65/127 and Ronaldo 85/153. In terms of performing for his country Kane does appear on track.

With this impressive return and maybe the national teams’ best with best scenario these figures certainly provide food for thought in terms of where he should play his future club football if he is to be the best he can possibly be.

Now what is equally impressive is that Harry Kane has scored 9 goals in 10 Champions League appearances along with a supplementary 10 in 31 Europa League appearances.

England face Belgium in their final group game and albeit a dead rubber in terms of proceeding to the knockout stages, just like Ronaldo, Kane has expressed his desire to start the game and his unwavering hunger for minutes on the pitch.

Belgium like England have conceded 2 goals in 2 games at Russia 2018 so goals are evidently available should the Tottenham striker be on the pitch.

However, one word of caution maybe not for this game but for the tournament going forward is the startling statistic which is Belgium’s own scoring rate. An impressive 8 goals to date in this World Cup and a staggering 43 in only 10 matches in qualifying for Russia 2018 which makes Belgium a serious proposition for the trophy overall.

Come what may the evidence and history to date certainly points to the fact Harry Kane could well become a world class striker. Let’s hope he does it in an England shirt first before any impending superpower coup takes him to the pantheons of European football.