The great mystery that surrounds Peter Crouch

In a truly magnificent show of irony, as I write this article Peter Crouch has just been sent off against Real Madrid for two ridiculous tackles. That aside, a striker that has 22 goals in 42 international games for England is going to be a class act week in week out for his team, or so you would expect. Peter Crouch has never been prolific by any stretch of the imagination. Crouch’s most successful goals to games ratio in the league came in his first stint at Portsmouth, then in the first division, with 18 goals in 37 games.

It has always been said the style of football played at league, Europe and international levels differs and Peter Crouch epitomises this difference. Not one to suggest that Crouch has split personalities, but the England international appears to be a more influential player when playing outside of the Premier League.

League football, whether Premier League or Championship, is a more frenetic game, with players having less time and space on the ball which in turn produces a more physical game that a player such as ‘Crouchy’ does not feel at his most comfortable. Champions League and International football tend to be played at a more controlled pace allowing for that ‘extra second or two’ either on the ball or just to think, two aspects which allow Crouch to play his more natural game.

For all his height, Peter Crouch isn’t the most orthodox of target men. His tendency to be comfortable with the ball at his feet combined with his inability to consistently win aerial battles has thrown up the surprising fact that he has been at his best, at Spurs, assisting no less than six of Rafael Van der Vaart’s goals this season. This begs the question: have managers throughout Crouch’s career misunderstood the impact of his stature?

Peter Crouch does have ‘the element of surprise’ about him and for all his awkwardness he does find the net on a regular basis for England. However, when you consider nine of Crouch’s England goals have come against the footballing minnows of Jamaica, Belarus, Egypt and Andorra, respectively, are his stats even that impressive?

For all the transfer fees Crouch has cost several top clubs and the rumours that are constantly circulated about the ‘big man’s’ next move, this journalist still considers that at the end of Crouch’s playing career, there will still be a question mark as to whether he was really a top European and international marksman or just a poor Premiership striker.

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