Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Crouching Peter, Hidden Talent - allwell

Peter Crouch doesn’t suffer from universal acclaim. In his 17 appearances for England, six of them as substitute, he has scored 11 times. This strike rate of 0.65 goals per game, better than that of Rooney, Owen, Shearer and Lineker, should make Crouch a national hero. He isn’t.

Perhaps this is about aesthetics: in his book Brilliant Orange, David Winner tells how Johan Cruyff thought Gary Lineker hopelessly limited because all he did was score. This seems to be a peculiarly Dutch perspective, but maybe the English, while not renowned for valuing the finer aspects of football, feel the same way about Crouch.

Perhaps, though, this is more about frustration, because, although an international striker with an impressive scoring record, the 6ft 7ins Crouch promises to be so much more.

He could be colossal, a behemoth, gargantuan and immense. Defenders would hit him and crumple, folding in on themselves like the canvas of a dismantled tent. Or they would bounce: big slabs of meat, sailing dumbly through the cold, clear air - like cattle fired from a giant catapult - to land in the stand, where they would remain, awestruck, marvelling at Crouch’s vitality.

But he isn’t and they don’t. Put simply, and to borrow a phrase from Somerset Maugham, Crouch is too tall for his strength. Recognising the need to broaden, he has increased his body weight by 15% over recent years, but the perception of frailty remains. Ultimately, I suppose, we must respect the limits of nature. Maybe expecting Crouch to transform into a man-mountain is no more realistic than expecting Maradona to sprout a few inches in height, Zidane to be just that little bit quicker or Carlton Palmer to be technically adept.

What can reasonably be expected, however, regardless of bulk, is for Crouch to make the most of his height. To leap. Like a lone dolphin breaking the ocean surface to soar over the waves with ease and grace, Crouch should rise above the sea of bobbing heads, unencumbered and alone, hanging, momentarily motionless, before delivering the ball a ferocious blow, sending it fizzing and whirring, blurred, into the net, to nestle, briefly forgotten, while the world around it erupts.

Or failing that, he could at least stand up straight.

Being so tall can’t be easy. You are exposed, obviously different, a target. It takes a certain personality to pull it off, and Crouch seems to lack the confidence to fill the role. It is fanciful to suggest that anyone can flourish in professional football without a certain amount of self-possession and fortitude, yet rather than draw himself up to his full height, announce himself physically and terrorise the opposition, Crouch appears angular, awkward, self-conscious, like a rapidly growing teenager.

So yes, one day, Peter Crouch may get the recognition he deserves. But that day will come only once he fully appreciates that his first name and surname are not separated by a comma.


Zephirine said...

Love the last sentence! It is odd, isn't it - people always seem to react as if he's scored all those goals by accident..

andrewm said...

Good article allwell. As a Liverpool fan I find myself defending Crouchy constantly against the usual criticism, and until a few months ago I wouldn't hear a word against him, but .... I really hope he leaves this summer.

He's capable of leading the line well, and of course his scoring record is impressive, but when the ball comes to him in a scoring position - in the air or on the deck - do you ever really believe it's going in?

He's atrocious at heading the ball, his shooting is wayward at the best of times and he gets knocked off the ball - or falls over his own feet - far too easily.

I still like him a lot, but I'm far happier when he's not on the pitch. Sorry Crouchy.

Ebren said...

Now - I don't want to be mean to the big man (seriously, it would be like shooting a puppy, and I only do that for money) - but his goals don't seem to come against big teams or on big occasions. By contrast, Owen has scored in Every Single International Knock-out Game He Has Played In.

Crouch's 11 goals
Frendlies: Uruguay (1), Hungary (1), Jamaica (3), Greece (2)
Competitive: Trinidad & Tobago (1), Andorra (2), Macedonia (1)

Lampard's last 11 goals
Frendlies: Greece(1), Jamaica (1), Iceland (1)
Competitive: Northern Ireland (1), Austria (2), Poland (1), Wales (1), Portugal (1), Croatia (1), France (1)

Owen's last 11 goals
Frendlies: Columbia (3), Argentina (2), Jamaica (1), Ukraine (1)
Competitive: Northern Ireland (1), Poland (1), Azabijan (1), Portugal (1)

MotM said...

Crouch and Beattie - Both at Southampton, both on Merseyside and neither all that good.

How did they score all those goals?

pipita said...

Allwell-Very nicely written. Im very inclined however to understand andy's irritation with the bloke. I dont believe Crouchie will ever rate as a class act. These goal ratio's can be very deceptive and ebren's stats clearly reflect this. I found Cruyff's reference of Lineker very amusing, but it seems almost bizarre to compare his goalscoring feats with those of Crouch.

Ebren said...

I like Beattie. He's an old-fashioned back-post striker.

Hits it hard with both feet and his head. Powerful. Give him service and he will score.

Leave him isolated up front and he's rubbish.

Beattie's records:
Southampton player of the year (1999)
Southampton top goalscorer, with 24, (02-03)
Southampton top goalscorer, with 17, (02-03)
Everton Record Purchase (2005).
Everton top goalscorer with 11 (05-06)
Gay Football Supporters Network's annual "Lust List" winner (2003)

Crouch is not a goal-scorer. He has nice technique, good vision, plays people in all the time, but is not fast or good in the air/penalty box. Oddly I think he would work well with Beattie.

MotM said...

Ebren - Granted Everton haven't always been sympathetic to Beattie's style, but he first touches it further than I can kick it, he seems slow in mind and body and doesn't seem to relish the fight for a place since Anichebe came through.

He was a goalscorer, but I don't know now.

Ebren - the new miro?

mimi said...

You've never seen a dolphin have you? Or did I miss an exquisite example of post-modern irony there!?

greengrass said...

allwell -
the standard of writing on this site is so good, and this piece of writing
serves to emphatically underline that fact.
I haven't even managed to read all the articles on here yet, but I am really impressed by the talent on show.
Frustrated hacks? Seriously good writers, I say!
Ebren: prepare to arrange a summer writing conference, perhaps with a view to publishing a Guardian Anthology of Frustrated Sports Hacks; this child of yours is thriving!

HannibalBrooks said...

Nice piece, pretty well written apart from some dubious punctuations that need tidying up.
But the sunject matter is a bit tired and passe.

Crouchinho has scored some big goals at important times for Liverpool ... United, Galatasary, Betis etc and is as taleneted on the ball with his feet as he should be with his head given his height. I would rather have Luis Garcia or Kevin Keegan as a target man for crosses from the wing though. Both are a full foot shorter than Crouchie but know how to head a ball properly ... but we love him anyway, lovely bloke.

mimi said...

Well said greengrass. I tend to come here first now as there's so much to enjoy, and the comments sections are far better than most I find on the Blog. I hope this will go on after next week when Sean's comp ends.

bluedaddy said...

Maybe Peter spent the best part of his life just desperately not wanting to be tall. He clearly loves to have the ball at his feet, and so perhaps he has deliberately ensured he is shite in the air.

You want him to succeed. He's like an anti-footballer in that he seems nice, unassuming, modest. He tries his heart out. He has his uses. And when it all clicks you feel so chuffed for him.


bluedaddy said...

Brooks. While you are here, I hear you got zapped again. I dont know where, when or why. But I saw there was a Doyle blog and .....

Emma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emma said...

And he's cute, too.

mimi said...

Brooks is banned from GU and we find him here! What kind of show are we running? Is he on a warning or just promises of good behaviour?
No seriously, this proves that Pseuds is the home of free expression!
Cheers to all.

Emma said...

And he's cute, too.

And he's cute, too.

And he's cute, too.

And he's cute, too.

And here are a few of my non-Crouch related Brokeback treats:

Jose & JT, Ash & Robben, Ferreira & Robben, European wing divers, Jose & Petr, Jose & lamps.

Yeah, this is FishCake.

andrewm said...

mimi, I hope we will be harbouring all fugitives from GU justice.

FishCake/Emma, I wondered if you would be joining us. What a surprise it took Crouchy to draw you in :)

I don't want to sound ungrateful to him, because he's a lovely lad who works damn hard and has never had the credit he deserves. But .... sometimes I feel we're carrying him a little. I just don't trust him to score anymore. In many ways I'll be sorry to see him go, but I think he ought to.

Emma said...

Fair enough, and the Bellamy/Kuyt thing does work better without him. But he's too good to be a sub. He can't just sit in the Liverpool dugout looking hopeful all the time, he's too good for that. Aston Villa beckons (I hope!)

And I've been lurking around this place for a while now, just not had the courage to post, in the fear that I was unwanted. =) It took an invitation from BlueDaddy to lure me in! :D

mimi said...

andrewm: I may myself soon be a fugitive from GU's justice having just been accused by Booth of bringing innuendo and muck to the OBO!
Good to know I'll be welcome here.

offside said...


- no one is unwanted

- there is no clique

- everyone is encouraged to contribute an article/poem/short story/thoughts

So, welcome and get writing.

offside said...

And by the way, allwell,

I enjoyed your short story but next time you might want to make your fictional character a little bit more believable. A 6ft7 Premiership striker is completely implausible.

Or, you could follow godlovesatheists' example and go completely over the top. Why not make him 7ft6 and looking like a stick insect?

mimi said...

emma: I know what you mean about feeling uncertain about contributing. The only reason I first started OBOing last year, cos I was pretty sure that very few people would be reading at 5am during the India tour.
Once you get one comment, email on a site, it all becomes very friendly. Until they sledge you ...
But that would never happen here. We're all friends together!

andrewm said...

mimi, you quite clearly own the OBO - and why not? You're doing fine work.

Mouth, on the other hand ....

Just kidding big guy.

Good to see Ebren on there today as well.

mimi said...

andrewm: I think it's just that there aren't many women on the OBO tonight and in the interest of GU political correctness, they have to put some girlies on. I'm the sad one with no life sending in the emails!

MotM said...

andrewm - I can't compete with mimi tonight. I've sent a few in, but they don't think they're good enough to print. And neither do I!

Pleased to get one on the horse-racing this afternoon though!

mimi said...

Mouth: it's not a competition, as you well know having already won the GU comp for getting the first WC email in! Anyway, would you really want them to say about you what they've been saying about me?
Was that a betting win you got at Cheltenham? Any tips for the rest of us for the Festival?
Share and enjoy.

Emma said...

Maybe I will write something when I turn 17. [in a month] Dunno what, though. Crouch has been covered, and he's all I know about.

Ebren said...

Mimi - if you wandto know what Nick Denny (over 44) is on about - follow the link:


bluedaddy said...

Film buffs and film chat is more than welcome here. And I know you give good film.

Try this for size from a couple of weeks ago:

Fellow Pseuds, Emmacake's gargantuan blog is worth a look, especially for her film reviews.

mimi said...

ebren: Oookay. I've looked at the link but am still not the much wiser for why Nick Denny (who he anyway) would have made that comment. I'm missing something here. Anyone enlghten me on how my name gets linked on the OBO with this?

Ebren said...

I think the idea is that an obsessive male OBO fan might use a Nasa nappy to completed the 600-mile round-trip to come and stalk you.

Or visit your famous six-week World Cup parites.

mimi said...

Hum. thanks for the enlightenment ebren. That's just weird. Hope he'll be banned if he finds his way to here then.
Still, new day tomorrow, and I've got a couple of my FC men playing, so despite potential stalkers, I'll be joining Lawrence on the OBO.
Scotland v Aus - tasty!

offside said...

mimi, Ebren,

sometimes I wish I knew what you guys are talking about. But only sometimes.

guy anthome said...

Emma,you could write a full story with your choice of favorite movies after looking at your list this is what i came up:
take a street car named desire for a brief encounter with mildred pierce . finding nemo on sunset boulevard to share an apartment together with a rear v. window during roman holidays with Capote.
according to the rules of logic this test confirms: you are a logical person. confirms. Guitou

allwell said...

Thanks for all the comments. I was a bit busy yesterday so have only just noticed the article.

I agree that the subject matter isn't exactly fresh but I thought it might generate a bit of a rumble as Crouch tends to divide opinion.

And let's be honest, it was simply an excuse to use that last sentence, so I'm glad you liked it Zeph.

mimi said...

If anyone's interested, Tom Lutz (who he) is doing the OBO tonight and with smut and innuendo seeming to be back on the agenda, yep, I'm back too!

Tweet it, digg it