Peter Crouch’s form should land him a starting place in England’s squad.
The quality Crouch displayed in the game against Blackburn before Christmas highlighted the two sides to his game which make him a complete striker. Firstly, his ability in the air as he headed a cross in off the post to give Spurs a half time lead and secondly, as the game became more stretched, to pick the ball up and find the perfect finish so as to round of a convincing victory.
It was clear from Rovers inability to handle Crouchs’ continual persistence that he cannot be ignored.
Until now, Emile Heskey has held the role of the “target man” in Capello’s line up, however Heskey cannot provide the sharpness in front of goal that Crouch can. Heskey cannot worry defenders with a six foot seven inch frame. Heskey cannot influence a game in the same way Crouch can. Heskey’s miss in front of goal against Croatia in the world cup qualifier at Wembley showcased the threat that it could be him who spurns a vital chance in the latter stages of the tournament in South Africa.
Crouchs’ hold up play could be compared with Luca Toni’s role in Italy’s victorious 2006 world cup campaign. Toni’s excellent work rate and ability to bring Totti and Del Piero into threatening positions was the catalyst for the Azzuri’s success. Crouch will provide a calming influence on an otherwise erratic forward line.
Many try to lambast Crouch as a player who will lead defenders to play the “long ball” up to the lanky forward. While this may be a possibility Crouch can provide the plan B which England may need at a vital point of a match.
The ugly slant we put on the long ball tactic tarnishes it with the image of a brutish side full of bulky centre forwards and battling defensive midfielders. In fact it is an effective system which can wear down and unsettle defences, especially when the man on the end of the long ball is towering over everyone.
You have to look at all the options Capello has for his big man role before realising how Crouch must be a dead cert:
1. Carlton Cole- a decent forward who can be quite erratic and also wasteful in front of goal. A main man for West Ham but does not possess quality to start.
2. James Beattie- never excelled in an England shirt when given the chance. Possibly to old at the age of 31.
3. Kevin Davies- never represented England at any level. Lack of experience and un-fashionable club count against him.
4. Bobby Zamora- poor finishing still a problem despite improving form throughout this season. Lacks skills for prestigious role.
5. Darren Bent- his showing against Brazil in Doha could have ruled him out of contention despite impressive domestic form.
Look at Crouch’s goal record for England. 18 goals in 35 games is impressive for the Macclesfield born striker whereas Heskey has only amassed 7 goals in 57 games.
For me it is obvious who should be picked. Peter Crouch plays consistently for Spurs and Heskey continually bench warms for Martin Oneill’s Villa. The man who’ll weigh in with goals for England is Crouch.