PREMIER LEAGUE WEEKLY meets Sports Personality for this week’s column.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane will be in action against Burnley at Wembley this afternoon, before getting his suit out and making his way up to Birmingham tomorrow night for the BBC awards.
Kane is the bookmakers’ favourite to lift the iconic trophy, but would he be a worthy winner?
Does Kane deserve to be Sports Personality of the Year?
TOMORROW night sees the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year take place in Birmingham. It’s an award that always attracts attention and creates plenty of talking points. In years gone by, football has not fared well, but this time Tottenham Hotspur Harry Kane is the bookmaker’s favourite to take the prestigious prize.
In the 61 previous years of the award, footballers have only ever won this on five occasions – Bobby Moore (1966), Paul Gascoigne (1990), Michael Owen (1998), David Beckham (2001) and Ryan Giggs (2009). That is despite football being the national game and the sport that commands most attention in the Media, certainly in the current climate. Just think, Sir Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker, two of England’s greatest ever players, never won it.
So it is fitting that Kane is in the list of contenders. Let’s examine his credentials. He was captain of the England team that finished fourth in the World Cup – the biggest sporting event on the planet – their best finish on the world stage since Italia ’90, and their first major semi-final since Euro ’96. On top of that, Kane was the Golden Boot winner, having scored six goals across the tournament. As the world’s best gathered, the Spurs man was more prolific than Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest.
England’s run to the last four reconnected the national teams with its supporters and Kane was the figurehead for a side of unlikely lads, compared to England teams of the recent past. Young boys and girls wanted to be Harry Kane when they were recreating moments in the park or playground, and they wanted his poster on the wall. His credentials are stronger than other football winners. David Beckham won it for helping England qualify for the World Cup. Michael Owen scored a magical goal as an 18-year-old against Argentina, but we still went out in the last-16. Ryan Giggs received the award in 2009, more for outstanding long service than a particularly special year.
Yet others will argue that of Kane’s six goals in Russia, three came from the penalty spot. And five of the six came against Tunisia and Panama in the first two games. They helped England get out of the group, but the goals dried up the deeper England went in the tournament. Against Croatia in the semi-final, with England 1-0 up, Kane missed a golden chance to make it two. It was the type of chance he has buried so often for both club and country, but he didn’t on this occasion. On that, the game turned. If Kane had scored, England would have reached their first World Cup final for 52 years. The 25-year-old still returned home as the best striker in Russia, but a lingering sense of ‘what if’ floated around.
Since the World Cup, Kane has continued to score goals for Tottenham and he also grabbed the winner against Croatia in last month’s Nations League game to send England through to the final four in Portugal next summer. It’s a new competition but perhaps Gareth Southgate’s men are getting a taste for these big matches.
It has undoubtedly been a special year for this throwback in the modern game. He is a family man with two daughters already, who loves playing golf in his spare time. But he has stiff and worthy competition to be Sports Personality of the Year. Lewis Hamilton won his fifth world title in Formula 1. Welshman Geraint Thomas conquered the Tour de France, cycling’s biggest race. Lizzy Yarnold became the most successful Briton at the Winter Olympics when she defended her skeleton title. While Ronnie O’Sullivan’s win at the UK Championship last Sunday and championing by Steve Davis has seen The Rocket shoot up the odds charts as a nod to his mastery with a snooker.
Some years, the winner is obvious and there are no complaints. This year, there are many contenders and whoever wins will face calls that it’s not deserved. Whether that turns out to be Kane will be revealed just before 9pm tomorrow night.
Stat of the Day
3 – In each of West Ham’s six victories so far this season, they have scored three goals or more. Only Manchester City have scored three times in a game more often.
Adam’s Saturday Scores
Manchester City 2 Everton 1
City lost their unbeaten record at Chelsea last Saturday and still have key players missing. But they should have enough to sneak past Everton.
Crystal Palace 0 Leicester 2
It’s just one win in 11 for Palace and the Foxes will be eager for revenge from their 5-0 mauling at Selhurst Park back in April.
Huddersfield 1 Newcastle 1
A real relegation dogfight. The Terriers have home advantage but Newcastle have only lost at the two Manchester clubs on the road this season.
Tottenham 2 Burnley 0
Spurs may struggle to find the intensity after their efforts in Barcelona in midweek, but this feels like a routine home win.
Watford 1 Cardiff 0
Watford have not won since the end of October. Cardiff have not won on the road. Home win.
Wolves 3 Bournemouth 2
Wolves have bounced back to form with wins over Chelsea and Newcastle and I’m backing them for three more points in a high-scoring affair.
Fulham 1 West Ham 2
Fulham need to start improving under Claudio Ranieri, but the Hammers may have too much class for them with Felipe Anderson on form.