But Roy Hodgson is a sensible man. He wears sensible clothes, has sensible tastes, probably drives a sensible car - and what's more, drives it sensibly. It could be (and indeed has been) said that is one of his weaknesses as a manager, that he is sensible to the point of excessive caution, but in the case of the Chigwell Charlton (hype works best when it's alliterative) it turned out that his sensibleness was entirely appropriate.
Before the game Hodgson was at pains to stress he wasn't going to base his team selection on the hype.
“There is always going to be a situation where there is a clamour for him to be thrust straight in,” he said. “I would like to think I don’t either succumb to that clamour, or am put off by the fact that if I did succumb to the clamour, I was making a populist decision.”
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It took a while for Kane to make his bow, in a number of ways. For much of the second half Kane was warming up with a hopeful look on his face, barely turning his gaze away from the bench in the manner of an optimistic puppy sitting by the dinner table, hoping for a bit of ham to be thrown his way.
When he was called to the sidelines, there followed a few minutes of the ball staying in play, so he and Ross Barkley stood waiting, a little like some barely-clad students in Freshers' week queuing outside a sticky-floored disco, shivering and wondering why they were there. So long were they standing, you feared they'd catch their death of cold.
The roar when Kane was eventually introduced was nearly as loud as the ones for the goals, a surprisingly atmospheric Wembley (kudos to whichever marketing bod managed to sell this one out) reaching something close to fervour for a man who was nearly shipped out of Tottenham a year ago.
And then the goal. 79 seconds and three touches (the first two were a well-controlled chest and a neat lay-off) into his England career, and Kane was lurking at the back post to head home. You had to laugh, really, at the splendid neatness of it all.
What he does seem to have is a knack of finding space, of being there at the right time and in the right place. Call it a sixth sense, or anticipation, or just luck, but it's part of the reason one of Kane's predecessors in the Tottenham and England centre-forward role, Gary Lineker, was so good. He just seemed to be there, all the time, so didn't really have to have Alan Shearer's right foot, or Les Ferdinand's head, or Michael Owen's pace. His goal was a typical 'Harry Kane goal', if it's possible for a player that has only really been a Premier League player for a few months to have a type.
The good news is that if we are to assume that this isn't all good fortune, and it's more than a monumental purple patch and he can keep up this habit of slipping into pockets of room that other players didn't even know were there, then the ravages of a long, hard career won't necessarily have that much of an impact. Because he doesn't rely on one particular physical attribute, there's more chance that he won't lose it.
Still, despite this remarkable and instant impact, Hodgson's decision not to start with Kane in the side did actually have plenty of logic to it. The assumption – correct, but unsuccessfully, as it turned out – was that Lithuania would play five across a very deep midfield, sit back and try to frustrate England. Had Kane played then Hodgson would have set up with a midfield diamond and two up front, narrowing the pitch significantly, but with Danny Welbeck in the side instead of Kane, there was some extra width to work with and stretch the opposition.
Indeed, the selection of the front three was justified in the opening quarter alone, with the rapid movement of Rooney, Welbeck and Sterling causing the Lithuanian defence any number of problems. And it probably would've caused the defence of a much better side some issues too, such was the rapid passing and the fluidity of a front three that had started the three previous qualifiers together. But for the width of a couple of posts England would've been four up at the break, and deservedly so too.
In the post-match press conference Hodgson seemed painfully keen not to talk too much about Kane, lest he increase the pressure on this young man. It was an understandably protective but forlorn hope, but after some solid straight-bats to some queries, he ended up comparing Kane to the man who'll be England's all-time top goalscorer in a few games.
“There's been a lot of hype about him and I'm delighted [he got his goal],” said Hodgson. “I hope he's got a long career ahead of him.
“I don't think that he's the sort of person to buckle under pressure... Wayne Rooney scored on his debut a few years ago and he's never looked back. Hopefully [Kane] can do the same.”
So much for dampening down expectations. Hodgson was actually wrong, too – Rooney didn't score on his debut and only found the net in his sixth cap. It was almost as if he was aware of his protective duties to Kane, but couldn't bear the thought of not saying something nice about him.
This is, to be frank, a profoundly tedious qualification campaign from England's perspective. Functional win will follow functional win until passage to France is assured, so it was just nice to have something more diverting to concentrate on, rather than a decidedly joyless progression to Euro 2016.
In the end it was an entirely satisfactory evening all round. Hodgson's team selection was proved correct, the England fans got to see Kane, and the boy wonder got his goal. Everyone's happy.
Nick Miller
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