James Maddison takes on Harry Kane mantle as Tottenham’s new talisman

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Tottenham have a talismanic figure wearing the No10 who they can reliably trust to deliver the goods. It used to be Harry Kane. It is now James Maddison.

Maddison plays best when given licence to take risks, express himself, and then take more risks. As Spurs dispatched Bournemouth 2-0 at the Vitality Stadium, their new vice-captain took it upon himself to become the creative axis from which everything else clicked into gear.

It rained, then the sun shone, then it rained again. The weather could not make up its mind, and neither could Bournemouth’s defenders as they reeled off different methods, both legal and illegal, for how to stop Maddison’s influence.

They couldn’t. He was already being clipped and stopped at source inside the first 10 minutes, and should really have put the visitors ahead when intercepting Neto’s clearance, playing a one-two with Son Heung-min and then weakly striking against the goalkeeper’s outstretched leg.

But his maiden goal for Spurs soon arrived. Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham have new stars for fans to adore, and Pape Matar Sarr is fast becoming one. His through-ball allowed Maddison to hop between the home defence and steer Spurs ahead.

As the 26-year-old took a breather and a sip of water during a stoppage in play, one Bournemouth fan stood up and took issue with the midfielder’s decision to go down under a challenge in midfield moments earlier.

“Cheat. You’re a cheat”, the fan shouted. Maddison, unperturbed, simple grinned and pointed to scoreboard. 0-1, it read. It was his goal and his livewire performances that separated the teams.

Here were two of the Premier League’s more high-intensity teams, and no side can press intently forever. Bournemouth grew into the contest in the second half, something Postecoglou will have to address, but at just the right time Tottenham mustered their second goal.

Spurs fans will hope the injury that saw Destiny Udogie replaced late on by Ben Davies is not serious, and his influence on this team is clear to see. He carried the ball intricately towards the box, exchanged a give-and-go with Son, and then pummelled across the goalmouth for Dejan Kulusevski to convert.

Perhaps the only genuinely worrying sight on this positive afternoon was that of Richarlison’s performance. He looked a man lacking confidence and weighed down under the pressure to succeed Kane as Tottenham No9.

After slipping on the ball and falling over, it was almost out of embarrassment for the slip that he stuck a petulant slide tackle on Illia Zabarnyi who was carrying the ball away. He needs a hand on his shoulder as he tries to convince the fanbase to stick with him. He also needs a goal.

Maddison endured no such troubles in front of goal, however. He inspired his team-mates to victory here.