Peter Crouch: height of obscurity?

Posted by Garstonite on July 19, 2005, 05:34:47 PM

Liverpool fans who remember John Toshack will start to make comparisons, naturally.  Liverpool fans that don’t may just make comparisons with Peter Crouch and Buckaroo.

Who cares though?  Peter Crouch may not be the world’s best looking guy.  Nor may he be the best footballer in the world.  But boy, he is effective in what he does. Besides, what is this – a fashion show? I wouldn’t care less if we had Uncle Festa playing up front as long as he did the business. The similarly gigantic Jan Koller is hardly the most aesthetically pleasing footballer in the world, yet he's a vital lynchpin in an effective Czech side that plays exciting football.

The main argument, in favour of Rafael Benítez’ imminent signing, is just plainly one word: variation. We have the pace and power of Djibril Cisse, the skill, flair and strength of Fernando Morientes and now we have a player who can knock down long balls from the back.  What’s the problem? 

Most fans' problem with Crouch is that they think Liverpool are going to become one dimensional, predictable, ‘just like Wimbledon were in the 90s’.  John Carew was a similarly tall striker who played under Benítez at Valencia, but was Rafa's side all of those things?  No, of course they weren’t.  Far from it, actually. Carew played for Valencia in both their victories over us in the Champions League group stage in September and October 2002, and those performances are considered to be amongst the top two or three against us by an opposition team since we returned to Europe post-Heysel. So much for tall striker = long ball.

Just this week Rafa has been complaining about us not having a striker who scores enough goals.  Last season Baros was our top scorer with 13; Peter Crouch scored 16 in a far inferior side, with far inferior service. 

The cycle just keeps on going.  We had Rush as our goal scorer, then we had Fowler, then we had Owen and right now we are in a situation where we are trying to find Michael’s replacement.  Why not bring him back I hear you cry? We have moved on and Rafael Benítez has looked elsewhere, that’s his decision. One thing I am for sure of, however, is that Rafa would have had to have spent a fair bit more than £7m on Owen. 

Will Peter be as effective as Owen?  Only time well tell, of course.  Both may very well have different styles of play, largely due to the physical attributes of each player, but if you bang in the goals most fans won’t care if it comes off your shin, nose or genitals.

The assistance from fellow team mates will be of far higher quality under Benítez’ side than it was/is at Harry Redknapp’s Southampton, there is little questioning that. However you have to be careful in saying “Well if he could get 16 for them, imagine how many he could score for us”. Obviously, that is not always the case:

1) They need to be playing to do the business.  Will Crouch get as many games for Liverpool as he did at Southampton? Look at Louis Saha and Alan Smith. They are both great strikers and both players excelled at Fulham and Leeds accordingly, but when the competition increases and they have the likes of Ruud Van Nistelrooy (£18m) and Wayne Rooney (£30m), it gets more difficult to get on the pitch and show the manager what you are capable of.

2) And will he also be able to cope with the pressure that is place upon your shoulders when you arrive at a club like Liverpool? 

Will Peter Crouch be able compete against the likes of Fernando Morientes and Djibril Cisse for a first team spot?  Again, only time will tell.  But if he has the right attitude - and with sudden international recognition and with the World Cup coming up next year, why wouldn’t he? – then he can achieve great things.

Putting things into a Premiership perspective:

Alan Shearer, a goal scoring machine, bagged a mere 7 goals.  It may have been one of the retired International’s worst seasons, bogged down with niggling injuries, but it’s still poor by his standards.

Wayne Rooney, £30m of fat, scored 11 goals in 29 games.

Emile Heskey, a supposed England International, scored 10 goals in 34 games;

Peter Crouch, a laughing stock who barely played a game before Christmas, scored 12 – more than any of these in a side that was eventually relegated.

What can’t speak, can’t lie.

Benítez doesn’t splash cash on players who aren’t up to his standard.  It’s a risk, I admit that, but all transfers are.  But I trust the manager’s judgement. After all I trusted him at fulltime 60 days ago ...

"What's special about him is he's 6ft 8ins," Saints boss Harry Redknapp told Sky Sports News. "That's probably the most special thing.

"He's got terrific touch, he's good in the air, has a good understanding of the game and is a fantastic player. He's a good lad and has not been a minute's problem even when this has been going on.
 
"He's had Liverpool [after him] and many players would have thrown their dummies out of the pram but he's come in every day, worked hard and been a fantastic example to everybody.

"This is the second time I've sold him - I sold him at Portsmouth for £5 million, so maybe I'll meet him again and sell him again!

"I wish him well and I'm sure he'll be a big success at Liverpool."


What will be a massive and devastating blow for Southampton could prove to be a decisive, shrewd move by Rafa. So let's all welcome Peter to the club and look forward to seeing what he can do for us.

© Garstonite 2005

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