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The Peter Crouch Story

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Following on from The Benny Ekotto Show I thought I’d highlight another one of our players who seems to be either loved or hated, although judging my recent moans, groans and chants, Crouch has a few more haters.

The human praying mantis signed for us in July of 2009, following Harry Redknapp from Portsmouth for a reported £9m. A lot of money but realistically for an international English striker it’s peanuts. So how in just over a season has he managed to get so much stick from home fans?

You know you’re doing badly when people are cheering for Paylyuchenko to come on in your place. Nothing against Pav and his goalscoring record isn’t that bad given how few opportunities he gets but he’s not a team player. Take a look at the last 15 minutes against United and count how many passes he made to a man in white. In fact don’t waste your time, I’ll tell you how many. None. In 15 minutes of play Pav didn’t manage to keep possession once. He did very much the same against Inter. I’ll come onto that later.

So why is there so much dislike for the robot dancing machine? It has a lot to do with people’s perception of how we play as a team when he starts. Most fans would agree he’s an excellent option B. Coming off the bench when we need a goal with 15 minutes to go perhaps, or even if we’re trying to hold onto a single goal lead and we need an outlet ball, but most feel the long ball tactics that are seemingly employed when he starts aren’t the “spurs way”. I couldn’t agree more but I’m not so sure those tactics are employed as much as we think they are.

Of course there are times when it happens. In particular when Dawson is playing at the back. His one and only out ball is the long punt onto the head of Crouch. Is that Peter’s fault? We either moan that the ball is being played to his head or moan that for a tall man he can’t head it. He prefers it to his feet and has said so in the past.

He’s ugly to watch. In fact he’s ugly to look at full stop but his ugliness is only based on looks. His touch is usually not a bad one but because he’s all arms and legs and looks like he’s about to snap it looks ugly. His work-rate for the team is second to none, which is something that can’t be said about our other strikers. Even Defoe isn’t too keen on tracking back but he does a better impression of trying than Keane or Pav.

If Crouch scored goals for us the “Super Pav” song would rarely be heard around the Lane. It’s really the only thing missing from his play and it’s something that’s not really missing but something he’s never actually had. He’ll score goals of course, anyone would in this team with the chances we create but take his miss against Inter the other night as an example or some of the chances he created for himself against Everton. His movement is good to get into the positions and sometimes he shows quick feet to produce something himself but at the moment he looks like a deer in the headlights when he’s presented with a chance to score.

That’s shown when you consider he made his 61st appearance in a Spurs shirt on Tuesday night and scored his 18th goal. 20 of those appearances were as a substitute but given our rotation of strikers that can’t be used as an excuse. He just doesn’t score enough goals. A goal every 3.4 games in any team wouldn’t be seen as a good return but in this one with how we’ve played since he signed it’s just not good enough. By way of a comparison “super Pav” has made 38 appearances, 20 of those as a substitute and scored 16 goals. A decent return goal wise.

The trouble with Crouch is if he only offered what Pav does, with regards to all round play there’s no way he’d start for us. In fact there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have ever bought him. Much like Darren Bent, Pav has a knack of scoring goals but not much else. So when you’re standing in the crowd screaming for Pav to come on, ask yourself if you did the same with Bent or if you were happy that he left because if we were looking for that type of goalscorer I’d choose Bent everyday. In fact he’d be a decent option at the moment. Anyway, I digress. The reason Crouch gets into our team isn’t because of the goalscoring threat he offers, but because of what else he brings to the team.

The partnership he’s creating with van der Vaart is looking superb whichever way you look at it. Yes, vdV gets the credit and the plaudits for hitting the back of the net but it’s Crouch who seems to be getting the assist most of the time. Then of course there’s the Champions League where strangely he does score goals AND plays well. All of his 5 goals this season have come in Europe. We’ve played 6 games so far this season and I can think of Young Boys at home, Bremen away and Inter at home where Crouch was outstanding. I saw a stat the other day that really surprised me. Peter Crouch covered more distance during Tuesday’s match than anyone other than Bale and another player I can’t remember. Now that shows how much work he puts into the team and is the reason he plays so much.

Redknapp is a typical English manager. Of course he likes the silky players who can turn a game on it’s head but the one thing he’ll demand from each and every player is commitment. If you’re not playing well, make sure you give 100%. That’s something Crouch does every single time he crosses that white line. He may not be our Drogba, in fact he’s fast becoming our Heskey, but he does what’s best for the team. A lot of time has to be given in my opinion to players that other players like to play with. Crouch is one of those guys. He may not score bags of goals but he does get the odd important one and can rise to the occasion. The game at the City of Manchester stadium springs to mind where he was man of the match and quite simply outstanding for the entire 90 minutes.

We all know we should’ve bought a real, top quality striker last summer who would be on the end of the chances we create and would score 25+ goals a season easily, but that didn’t happen and Crouch shouldn’t be to blame for that. It’s fair to say when Defoe gets back he’ll walk straight back into the team and I hope he develops the understanding Crouch and vdV seem to have. With the strikers we’ve got Crouch is our best option on a week to week basis. I’m all for giving players like Pav a chance and if we need a goal bring him on, but as far as a team player goes, there aren’t many better than our Peter in N17.

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