‘Incredible’ Harry Kane underappreciated in England, says Ryan Mason after Tottenham masterclass
Ryan Mason believes Harry Kane is underappreciated in English football and has said he will largely allow the "incredible" forward to decide what role to play for Tottenham.
Kane put in a second-half masterclass as Spurs recovered from 2-0 down at the break to draw 2-2 with Manchester United in Mason's first game back as acting head coach on Thursday night.
The England captain was involved in the build-up to Pedro Porro's goal and crossed for Heung-min Son's late equaliser, as Spurs responded to clinical strikes from Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.
"He was outstanding," Mason said of his friend and former team-mate. "This country probably doesn't appreciate how good he is as a footballer. He's incredible.
“I was fortunate enough to come through the academy [with him], we played together. To be on the other side now and watching as a coach, it's a pleasure. I've thought many times in the last couple of seasons, to watch him live, this country should appreciate we've got a real special talent."
Mason added: "I certainly value loyalty and when I see a player showing loyalty, not only on the football pitch but off it as well - he's a family man, he's humble, he's hard-working and if I'm speaking to any kid in this academy and around the world, he's a role model to so many people. Not just children but adults as well and we're lucky to have him here."
Kane thrived in a free role against United, dropping into space behind forwards Richarlison and Son, and Mason said he does not want to stifle his instinctive brilliance by giving him detailed instructions on where to play.
"There's some plans we do like to give Harry on where we feel space might be, but at the same time we're talking about honestly one of the most intelligent and best players in the world," Mason said. "To take that instinctiveness away from him is something we don't want to do.
"If Harry feels like he needs to come very deep and take the ball from the defenders at times, then he can do that because he has the passing ability to affect games from every area of the pitch. I think we saw [against United] that once again Harry Kane is probably one of the best strikers in the world.
"We have different tactical plans for every opposition and we understood yesterday that we probably had one of the best strikers in the world coming up against probably one of the best defensive midfielders in the last decade [in Casemiro], so that was going to be a key battle.
“I thought Harry influenced the game. He created the second goal but at the same time he was constantly involved and the more touches Harry gets of the ball we feel like the more chances we'll create."
Kane, who will have a year remaining on his contract in June, has been linked with a move to Manchester United and the away fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium sang “we'll see you in June” during the match.
"Listen, the future is the future, it's important that we focus on right now," Mason said when asked if he could imagine a Spurs without Kane. "Our fans love him, we all love him here. We appreciate him at this football club."
Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris remains sidelined for Sunday's visit to Liverpool, while Mason could recall Dejan Kulusevski and Ben Davies. Spurs have not won at Anfield since 2011 but Mason played down that the club has an inferiority complex to overcome.
"No, every game is different and we have to approach every game with the mindset of being in the present, and in that moment," he said.
"It's a difficult place to go, we're aware of that, and I think recent history probably suggests that. I don't think on Sunday that years gone by is going to influence the outcome of the match or the mindset we approach it with. We're going to be confident and confident in our ability and if we perform to our best with the ball we can hurt them."