Why England need Kane and not Henderson to lead them

Gareth Southgate has hinted he’s willing to spread the England captain’s armband around between now and next summer’s World Cup Finals (not a tact I agree with), but today’s newspapers tell me it’s ‘Hendo v Harry’ for the right to land the privileged position permanently.

Football expert Adrian Clarke tells us why the England captaincy belongs to Harry Kane.

While I’m aware Henderson is already performing skipper’s duties for his club, and that most coaches who’ve worked with him have been effusive about his unselfish leadership traits, I’d lean against the Liverpool man for one extremely straightforward reason…

He’s just not a top-class international player.

At elite level, Henderson is a middle of the road midfielder.

I can hear a few of you screaming that England are a ‘middle of the road’ side so he’s a perfect fit, but I don’t subscribe to that slightly defeatist theory.

I’d actually suggest it is another very strong reason not to make him the front man of Southgate’s squad.

Image shouldn’t matter, but it does, especially when it comes to repairing the reputation of the full England national team.

The collateral damage created by that Iceland debacle was enormous, and safety-first choices just aren’t going to inspire renewed levels of support, even though Southgate is doing a perfectly reasonable job.

Three Lions fans aren’t silly. They no longer expect to win the World Cup.

But to replace that dampened down optimism they do at least want to see a spot of courage and adventure taken. ‘If we get beaten then let’s at least give it a right good go,’ is the feeling emanating from the stands.

So a choice between Henderson and Kane will, in many ways, reflect the direction Gareth Southgate wants his boys to take.

The message it sends to supporters, and his future opponents, is important to consider.

One is a hardworking, solid team player that’s essentially a stopper; the other is one of the planets’ most respected and feared goal-getters.

What is the vibe of his England side to be: damage limitation or attack mode?

With Dele Alli and Marcus Rashford also coming to the fore, the philosophy should, in my view, be an assertive one that screams ‘we are coming to attack you’. Kane as main man represents that notion.

The symbolism is bold.

It will be more striking, more morale lifting, and I hate saying this but also more PR friendly, to have a world-class footballer like Harry Kane as the figurehead.

Kane’s image on the posters, Kane’s presence at the press conferences, Kane’s handshake in the centre circle.

It hands England an extra dash of kudos.

And sometimes that makes a difference.

While I understand why Southgate wants to create a culture of shared leadership within the group, I feel it’s crucial he makes a decisive call on who wears the armband.

And although he lacks experience of captaincy, 24-year-old Kane is the standout candidate.

He doesn’t lose his rage easily. He doesn’t court headlines. He doesn’t divide opinion.

He is an impressive individual, and a terrific role model that will surely be the first name on Southgate’s team sheet for the next five years.

This new England era needs a pick-me-up to get the public excited, and back onside.

By hanging his hat on Harry Kane, it will be a positive, popular and ultimately successful move.

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