Why Harry Kane’s Role needs to Change at Euro 2024

Harry Kane played a different, and less impactful, role against Serbia. This will have to change if England want to win Euro 2024.

Why Harry Kane's Role needs to Change at Euro 2024 f

Kane shines when he is surrounded by fast wingers.

England entered Euro 2024 as one of the favourites but the opening match against Serbia was more difficult than expected and one eye-opening aspect of the match was Harry Kane’s role.

Few had anticipated that Kane would play in a similar fashion to Erling Haaland.

On paper, it sounds like a great plan for England and for any striker.

The role is specific, requiring to play as much as possible on the shoulder of the last defender and stay on the fringe of the action as the midfielders assume all the creative responsibilities, patiently awaiting one moment to strike.

But the issue is that it reduces Kane’s effectiveness by 50%.

Harry Kane is a modern striker who was reduced to a one-dimensional one during the 1-0 win over Serbia.

If Gareth Southgate carries on with the same system for the rest of the tournament, his striker will be heavily compromised, possibly too much.

Southgate came into the Euros with issues over where Phil Foden would play, it now seems the bigger problem is with Kane.

Harry Kane vs Serbia


In the first half against Serbia, Kane had just two touches of the ball.

By full-time, that had risen to 24, showing that the Bayern Munich striker was more involved in the second half.

It is strange that when England played well, its captain was not involved at all.

When they didn’t, he had more of the ball and nearly scored.

Compared to Erling Haaland, Harry Kane does not need to score to have an impact on the game.

When he is at his best, Kane is a combination of a goalscoring No 9, a false 9 and a creative No 10.

Redefining him as a poacher to help his teammates who want to occupy the deep, No 10 position will be Southgate’s most contentious decision if England are unsuccessful.

Kane shines when he is surrounded by fast wingers.

At the last three international tournaments, Kane dropped deep and supplied passes to the likes of Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford.

Even when England was in control during the first 30 minutes against Serbia, Saka was the only attacker running beyond the defence.

There was too much reliance on him to make those runs, with Phil Foden starting on the left and coming in more centrally.

As the match progressed, the lack of pace hurt England.

It was surprising that Anthony Gordon was not introduced, given that his pace would have caused trouble for the tiring Serbian defenders.

Ollie Watkins could have arguably replaced Kane for the last 15-20 minutes to freshen things up.

The Difference between Kane & Haaland

Why Harry Kane's Role needs to Change at Euro 2024

Harry Kane nearly scored in the 77th minute, forcing an impressive save onto the crossbar.

Like Haaland, whether he played well or not become defined by such chances.

If he scores then it’s great but if he doesn’t, then questions start to arise.

The biggest difference between Haaland and Kane is that Haaland measures himself on goal return while Kane does not.

The role Kane played against Serbia does not seem to be one that he wants or enjoys.

Kane played that way because the starting 11 demanded it from him.

In his post-match interview, Kane suggested that the set-up was designed specifically for the opening game.

So it will be interesting to see whether any changes are made against Denmark and Slovenia.

Southgate’s plan is evidence that you can never have what everyone wants as the international manager.

In the lead-up to Euro 2024, there has been a demand for both Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden to play as attacking midfielders and against Serbia, they did.

The pair were always central and with Trent Alexander-Arnold in the side as well, it became too congested for Kane to occupy those spaces.

Southgate’s situation is similar to Vicente Del Bosque’s Spain squad which followed its World Cup success by defending the Euros in 2012.

Del Bosque had several players who occupied the same position and his solution was to pick them all, with Spain winning the final without a recognised striker.

England has a long way to go in terms of comparing them to that legendary Spain squad but it is an example of how managers will ultimately be lured to ensuring they get all their best players on the pitch at the same time.

But the question remains over what is gained when many quality players in the lineup get lost with the tactical configuration.

For Southgate, should he take advantage of Kane’s full abilities or have him continue to flood the space “between the lines” where he operates at his best?

Southgate may continue with this role for Kane but getting the most out of him is the only way England can win Euro 2024.

Lead Editor Dhiren is our news and content editor who loves all things football. He also has a passion for gaming and watching films. His motto is to "Live life one day at a time".

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