Peter Crouch, Spurs striker…what an enigma.
England International record – Excellent! [22 goals/42 caps]
Champions League record for Spurs – Excellent! [7 goals/10 apps]
Premier League record for Spurs – SHOCKING! [12 goals/67 apps]
In terms of whether Spurs fans generally rate him as a striker, he’s like Pavlyuchenko – splitting opinions across the fan base. It might be because he scores more often in one type of competition than another.
In this case, Crouch scores much more prolifically in the Champions League and international matches than in the Premier League. It’s just strange. A striker should be ready to…erm…strike in any match where he features.
Personally, I’m incredibly fickle about Crouch’s frequent presence in the Starting XI. At times he’s a guardian angel! At the San Siro he scored what was one of the most important goals in our season…and with his foot too! He also scored a vital goal at Manchester City to get us to the Champions League in the first place.
For the first few games where he played alongside Van der Vaart, Crouch became a perfect partner for the Dutchman.
For more observant/objective fans, he seems to have a nack for controlling the ball with skill and flare, which is entertaining, but not always productive. At other times and as far as his striking qualities go, he has been capable of frustrating me no-end.
This is the crux of the debate. Does he really fit our style of play? Or is he only playing because of Redknapp’s favouritism, which is gradually coming to light as some players indicate they would like to leave Spurs to gain more first team football.
Some would say he does fit our style of play; and perfectly. A lot of Spurs’ attack appears to be supplied from wingers bombing down the flanks, ready to whip the ball into the 6-yard box for Crouch. From there, he could either go for goal himself or head downwards for another striker to finish it. The squad selection has been ‘made’ for Crouch to slot in, hence the omission of Pavlyuchenko and Kranjcar in a lot of games, who alternatively like to play through the centre (even though Kranjcar tends to play on the wing and cut inside).
But others of course wouldn’t agree at all. You have to ask yourself, were the wings Harry’s chosen way of attacking? Or was it Crouch’s only path towards scoring?
Statistically, Spurs are still attacking more often through the centre than the wings to this day.
Back in the day when Keane was scoring for fun and Berbatov was performing in a white shirt for Sir Al’s entertainment, Spurs attacked mainly through the centre – even with Lennon on the wing – and it yielded many [great] goals. Then when Crouch got more appearances for us last season, our style became a bit hoofballified for a team that boasts being the pioneers of push-and-run football, the type of football perfected by the likes of Barcelona and Ajax.
Dawson for a long time has been the main culprit blasting the ball up to Crouch so that it can be held up there in a Carlton Cole fashion, only to be snuffed out by the opposition’s defence more often than not.
And even when he has the ball fed through to him, some of the occasions where he’s missed a chance to score have been many. Combine that with the lack of goals from the other strikers in the squad – stifling the team’s progression by missing goal chances – and you have a whole heap of resentment and finger-pointing aimed at certain strikers at some given point in the month, notably Crouch for the number of times he gives the ball away.
Personally, I don’t think he fits the team, no offence to him personally though. He doesn’t fit Spurs’ famous attacking style of play. His presence on the team attracts too many long balls from Dawson, even before the 90th minute of a draw as it’s ‘anti-football’. And when he heads a ball, he always plays leapfrog with the defenders, conceding fouls. As a man measuring 6ft 7ins, surely he only has to stand up to head the ball or not push the defending player over before heading the ball.