The beer is flowing in Munich. Oktoberfest started on Saturday, shortly after Harry Kane had knocked in his fourth goal in as many Bundesliga appearances wearing a special shirt featuring mountain flowers.
Next up, Manchester United in the Champions League and the reason Kane had to leave London. The Champions League that is, not the beer. Although they rarely have one without the other at Bayern, Wednesday’s date with United, the rekindling of a famous rivalry, 1999 and all that, is a reminder of their stature.
This is what it is about and where England’s captain needs to be, and if he is tempted to glance back towards White Hart Lane and the transformed mood under Ange Postecoglou, then he really should not.
Tottenham squeezed past one of the favourites for relegation at home on Saturday to wild acclaim and will now rest up ahead of the North London derby, while Arsenal test their character against the emotion of a return to Europe’s elite competition.
Mikel Arteta is sure to mention the disruption of European football if his team underperform against Spurs but would not trade places with Postecoglou, who must accept a free week is an advantage in terms of preparation for a trip to the Emirates Stadium, but would swap in a heartbeat.
Harry Kane has enjoyed a stellar start to his time at Bayern Munich since joining for £100m
Kane needs to be operating on the biggest stage despite Tottenham’s good start to the season
As for the players, they want to play. They want to compete. They don’t want to rest and prepare and watch the biggest games on TV, even if sports science says it’s better for their bodies and minds. Kane will be desperate to test himself against the elite again in a strong team, and will be able to do so for as long as he remains at Bayern Munich.
Since his last appearance in the Champions League, which came for a misfiring Tottenham team in an underwhelming goalless draw against Milan in March, he has scored 22 goals in 23 games for club and country.
He has failed to score on only five of those outings — and that includes his cameo Bayern debut as a substitute in the German Super Cup. His goal against Bayer Leverkusen on Friday, a close-range header to open the scoring in a 2-2 draw, was his 300th in club football, with 280 for Spurs, nine for Millwall, five for Leyton Orient and two for Leicester.
In the Champions League, Kane’s numbers remain impressive despite him scoring only once in eight games for Spurs last season.
His record before then was so good he can still boast figures of 21 goals in 32 appearances in the competition.
Although cherished in N17 and admired elsewhere, his consistent levels of excellence never did earn him the level of appreciation he deserved during nine years in the Premier League.
He hardly made the conversation when the Player of the Year awards were handed out. Over the last decade, those prizes have more than ever been the preserve of players picking up major trophies. Like a reward for excelling in a great team.
Kane, regardless, kept impeccable standards on the pitch and understood his responsibilities off it. He is a serious professional devoted to his craft. Someone at Bayern recognised this from afar. What is most remarkable of all is that Manchester United did not.
It is remarkable Man United never made a serious move for Kane despite their heavy spending
It felt as if he was never fully appreciated during his prolific years in the Premier League
Despite all their wealth, power and popular appeal, United failed to construct anything like a serious move on Tottenham for Kane at any point while spending £1.3billion in the transfer market, much of it on players of exciting potential, in the years since Sir Alex Ferguson has retired.
Ferguson would surely have ordered a full-scale attempt to recruit Kane, despite the obvious complications of dealing with a chairman like Daniel Levy, determined not to let others follow Teddy Sheringham, Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov on the path from Tottenham to Old Trafford.
Perhaps Rasmus Hojlund is the answer to the long search for a centre forward but, all along, Kane has been as close as you can get to a guarantee.
Just ask Bayern. The goals are flowing like the beer.
A night off for Chelsea in Europe…
Last Tuesday was a busy night of international football. England were in Scotland. Belgium, Spain, Germany and France were all in action and not a single Chelsea player started a game in Europe.
Conor Gallagher came on in the 84th minute at Hampden Park and Mykhailo Mudryk appeared as a sub for Ukraine against Italy, but the club’s only starters in senior internationals were in Africa and South America.
It illustrates the significant shift in recruitment under the new ownership, towards better value in new global markets and younger European players.
Cole Palmer and Noni Madueke started for England Under 21s and Malo Gusto and Lesley Ugochukwu started for France Under 21s.
Not a single Chelsea player started a game in Europe during last Tuesday’s internationals, with England’s Conor Gallagher (above) and Ukraine’s Mykhailo Mudryk appearing off the bench
It illustrates the significant shift in recruitment under the new Todd Boehly-led ownership
Compare this to last year’s September internationals, when nine Chelsea players combined for more than a thousand minutes of international football with European nations.
This month, the total was 221 minutes, played by Gallagher, Mudryk and Ben Chilwell.
Meanwhile, there was not one Tottenham player on the pitch for England against Scotland, whereas last time they met at Hampden there were four in Gareth Southgate’s starting XI.
Spurs were represented by 15 nationalities against Sheffield United on Saturday. Sixteen players from 14 different countries plus Ange Postecoglou from Australia.
Premier League football is more global than ever.
Brighton’s dark days seem long ago
Each time Brighton break new frontiers, my thoughts drift back 25 years to a time when I worked for the Hull Daily Mail. Back then, the fans of Hull City and Brighton united in crisis. Two proud clubs at their lowest ebb, mired in protest and fearing the future.
They finished the season ranked 90th and 91st in English football in 1997-98.
Brighton were spared the drop by virtue of Doncaster Rovers being in an even worse predicament, under criminal ownership and accumulating just 20 points with a goal difference of minus 83. All three found happier times would follow, but none quite like Brighton under Tony Bloom.
This week, having won at Manchester United for the second successive season, they will play for the first time in European competition against AEK Athens, and I will be thinking of Duane Darby and Andy Ansah scoring in front of fewer than 4,000 at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium.
Brighton have had a remarkable journey under owner Tony Bloom and they keep on improving
Former Arsenal wonderkid is at last shining
Ten years ago, Arsenal signed 16-year-old Dan Crowley from Aston Villa amid a great deal of fuss.
With his poise and balance, an ability to accept the ball on the half turn, and play off either foot, many likened Crowley to Jack Wilshere and tipped him for the top.
It is fair to say his restless career has not gone to plan but he has settled at Notts County, where he is sparkling in midfield and scored his third of the season on Friday, at Salford.