Throughout Peter Crouch’s career he has constantly been judged on his appearance more so than his on-pitch appearances. When Crouch is praised for his footballing abilities, it is usually the famous cliche that the media has tagged Crouchy with ‘good touch for a tall guy’, but is this all that the England International is good for?
Although many can argue that Crouch is a proven goal scorer, an International and an all round good footballer I still struggle come to terms with how Premier League teams, and Redknapp in particular, can constantly justify spending mega money on Peter Crouch.
Crouch is still to offer any club a decent goal scoring return, especially a return that warrants the millions they have spent on the lanky star, yet despite this, clubs still continue to splash millions on the striker as well as line his pockets with tens of thousands of pounds week in and week out.
Whilst its clear from Crouch’s recent holiday snaps that Abbey Clancy won’t mind this I am sure some of Crouch’s previous employers and fans would have offered to drive Crouch to any interested buyers after the frustration that Crouchy causes.
Take his immediate disinterest in representing Portsmouth when Harry departed early last season, it was clear that the club that spent so much money rescuing him from his Liverpool nightmare now possessed a striker that appeared to be a child without his mum, instead they have a Crouch without his Redknapp.
Crouch’s goals dried up after his number one fan departed for Spurs in the form of Redknapp. As soon as the twitching Spurs’ manager left Fratton park it was evident that Crouch wanted to follow him out, though I am sure that Crouch would have struggle to locate the exit door at a park given the short time he had been there before Redknapp’s departure.
Frustration also lies in Crouch’s lack of goalscoring consistency. Never has Crouch been known for his natural goal scoring ability or his ability to score goals on a weekly basis, it could even be argued that Crouch has yet to match the form he showed in a brief season at Southampton, a club that brought the 6 foot 7 giant in as an understudy to on-form James Beattie and Kevin Phillips.
In the 2004/2005 season Crouch appeared to have discovered some form at Southampton, where Redknapp was no surprisingly at the helm, but despite this form he struggled to keep the lowly Saints up and secured a move to Champions League holders Liverpool. It was at Liverpool where Crouch’s true goal scoring ability appeared to be questioned, Liverpool have had many strikers that have earned and maintained legendary status with the Kop, and rightly so, but was Crouch ever going to fill this void? A void left by the likes of Ian Rush, Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and one that is currently being entertained by Fernando Torres.
Initially, and for a very long time, it appeared not. Crouch produced a long, and serious lack of form in the 2005/2006 season following his £7 million move from Southampton and failed to find the net for four months, and typical of Crouch’s abysmal form his first goal had to awarded to him by the ‘dubious goal committee’ after it appeared to have been awarded to a Wigan defender. When speaking of his drought Crouch said:
“I’d needed a pat on the back, but I honestly knew things would change. Any striker who says they never have one of those runs is lying.”
But how many strikers that have had a combined fee of over £33 million spent on them have ever gone over four months without finding the net? Crouch had one of the best midfields in the world behind him yet still the beanpole failed to find the back of the net.
Another attribute that frustrates me and I’m sure many others is Crouch’s constant and persistent fouling, usually as a result of climbing! At 6 foot 7 there is no excuse to be cautioned for climbing on defenders, you possess an aerial advantage over anyone on the pitch and should be merely smirking at your opposition as you dwarf them and pluck out every high ball on the park. But not Crouch, Crouch uses defenders as a ladder in order to win balls, all the hard work taken by his team mates to get the ball in the box become undone as Crouch willingly hands over possession having not mastered any heading technique despite his 7 inch advantage on most Premier League defenders.
Finally, I find it increasingly frustrating to see Peter Crouch’s name on the England team sheet. People constantly point out Crouch’s superb International goal scoring record. Superb, NO. Impressive, Yes. He has scored 16 goals in 34 appearances, averaging a goal every other game which is impressive at any level, but it has to be highlighted that the standard of opposition that these goals have come against are on par with the local pub team. 3 of these goals came against Jamaica, a nation that have failed to qualify for any major competition since 1998, and Crouch can also boast of a goalscoring record that contains scalps such as Macedonia, Trinidad & Tobago, Estonia and Andorra. I don’t want to take anything away from the England International but I can’t help but wonder if a man that struggles to compete against high quality opposition at International level should be included in the England squad?
When we reflect on Crouch’s career, we think of his comically choreographed robot dance, his unnaturally long physique and maybe his stunning WAG fiancee Abbey Clancy, but never his goal scoring prowess. But why is this? Maybe it’s because he lacks the prowess, maybe he is just a tall footballer with a good touch. It would be interesting to see where Crouch would be had Redknapp not been his number one fan.