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Friday, 13 February 2009

Could Peter Crouch Regret Leaving Liverpool?

When Peter Crouch decided that he wanted to leave Liverpool last summer, it was impossible to blame him. With Benitez set on a system spearheaded by Fernando Torres and with Steven Gerrard just behind him, there was no room in the starting line up for Crouch.

Sure, the manager publicly said that he wanted him to stay and that the striker was highly rated at Anfield but the fact remained that at Liverpool he was simply a squad player. Fearful of losing his spot in the England team and increasingly ambitious to achieve more, that was no longer good enough for Crouch.

Portsmouth was a strange choice, albeit one limited by lack of options, yet the club had just won the FA Cup and Harry Redknapp had slowly built up the club around a batch of talented players such as Lassana Diarra and Jermaine Defoe. For Crouch, moving there meant the possibility of helping the club push on as well as fulfill his own ambitions. It was, by general consensus, a good deal for him.

Eight months down the line, however, things aren’t as clear. With Portsmouth now looking for their third manager of the season, practically all of the better players sold and those left set for a battle to stay in the Premiership, it has gone horribly wrong. Rather than a step forward this has been more like a move back in time. After all, Crouch has been through all of this before at Southampton, the club from whom he joined Liverpool and with whom he had been relegated from the Premiership.

All of which raises the question: did he make the right choice? Hindsight, of course, is greatly deceptive yet even last summer there were indications that Portsmouth had overachieved and, with increasingly restless owners, there was little room for improvement. True, no one could have anticipated Redknapp’s departure but little else of what has gone on at Fratton Park has come as a major surprise.

Crouch himself hasn’t been overly impressive. Six league goals – the last one being scored in November – is a meager return for a striker bought for ₤9 million and his lack of form has cost Tony Adams dearly.

Yet last Saturday, Crouch showed that he still has the skill. He troubled Liverpool’s defenders every time a high ball was flung in but, more importantly, it was his quick thinking and awareness that saw him slot the perfect pass for David Nugent to score the first goal.

Of course, there’s no guarantee of what would have happened had he stayed with Liverpool. As Robbie Keane found out, it isn’t easy to slot into Benitez’s plans, so even Torres’ injuries wouldn’t have guaranteed him a starting place.

Then again, it could be argued that even a bit part role in a title chasing team would have been better than a fight against relegation as a regular. Just as Michael Owen before him, Crouch might eventually find himself wondering whether he should have wished for something else.


Antony Melvin

Difficult question. Crouch moved to play regular football and therefore stay in the England reckoning - which he has achieved.

No-one could foresee that Pompey would decline so quickly. Even if Pompey are relegated I would expect another Premier League team to make him an offer of regular football, Newcastle, West Ham, Wigan - Everton, maybe.

And he can then retain his England squad place and look to build on that. I think that Crouch has a lot in common with Heskey in that regard. The 'Big Four' is not for him so a few years in the strata below awaits.

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