Why Is Crouch So Much More Deadly For Country Than Club?

by Dan Fitch on March 4, 2010

Peter Crouch pretty much booked his plane ticket to South Africa this summer, with two goals against Egypt last night. Despite his excellent goalscoring record for England, his place in the World Cup squad was still in doubt, as Capello tries to find the right mix up front.

Capello’s main priority is to find a blend that will bring out the best in Wayne Rooney, but as that may well translate to the Manchester United striker starting alongside the non-scoring Emile Heskey, it’s important to have some more prolific options available in the squad.

Crouch has now scored 20 goals in 37 England games, of which he’s started just 17. That equates to a goal every 1.85 games. To put this into perspective, Defoe has managed an average of a goal every 3.45 games, while Michael Owen has averaged a goal every 2.22 games and Alan Shearer scored a goal every 2.1 games.

The difference between Crouch and the likes of Defoe, Owen and Shearer, is that the gangly forward has never been particularly prolific at club level. The most league goals that Crouch has ever scored in a season, is the 12 that saw him earn a move from Southampton to Liverpool, while he’s never broken the 20 goal barrier in all competitions.

So what is it that makes Crouch so deadly for England, compared to his more modest contributions for his various clubs? It’s true that international sides are less used to a big forward like Crouch, while Premier League defenders often face an aerial bombardment. However, this ignores the fact that despite his height, Crouch isn’t actually that good in the air and has scored plenty of goals for England with his feet.

Then there’s the argument that his goals all come against lesser sides. Firstly, that’s a talent not to be sniffed at, especially against teams with modest ambitions, who are playing tight. Secondly, he has only started one game against what you would deem a top international team (against Spain in 2007) and it’s when he starts that Crouch is the most dangerous in terms of goals.

In the 20 substitute appearances that Crouch has made for England, he has only scored 4 goals, with the other 16 coming from his 17 starts. That’s not to say that Crouch will not best be employed from the bench during the summer. He’s not just about goals and his very appearance on the pitch seems to unsettle teams – even some of the best. Remember his substitute appearance against Argentina prior to the 2006 World Cup? He came on with just 9 minutes to go and caused chaos, as England came from 2-1 down to win 3-2.

Perhaps it’s the slower pace that suits him, but I think it’s more than that. He just looks more confident in an England shirt. Look at how he finished for his equalising goal last night. So often at Spurs this season he has looked hesitant when put through for similar opportunities.

Crouch has scored just 5 goals in 23 league games for Tottenham this season. If he could translate his England form to Spurs then he’d have a far more respectable total of 12. What a difference that would make.

He may have lost his Spurs spot to Pavlyuchenko, but Crouch’s exploits for England suggest that we can get more from the player. White Hart Lane can be an unforgiving place, where heads can soon drop. The only way that Crouch will get all of the crowd behind him and build up his confidence is to get amongst the goals more regularly.

For him, I think that means getting more crosses into the box. By that I don’t mean deep crosses hit by Corluka from the halfway line, but ones that come in with pace from the byline, like the one that resulted in Crouch’s opener. With Lennon having the ability to deliver such balls from the right and Gareth Bale currently so dangerous from the left, perhaps in the future Crouch will replicate some of his fine England form for Spurs.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Luke F March 4, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I think the main reason is Crouch is coming on for 30 mins and that is a issue teams cant prepare for unless it is from the off! That has been Spurs downfall in recent weeks, starting with Crouch gives the other team a heads up and they can deal with him, Crouch is not a starter!

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DAVSPURS March 4, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Simple supply and Defoe by this i mean Lennon’s crosses and Defoe scores a lot of Crouch’s chances both Defoe and Crouch have scored 28 goals .And one more vital fact Fifa dont allow energy drugs like the prem do just look at some of our so called stars who run and run and scored for there clubs but are a pale shadow for England Rooney Gerrard Lampard Crouch is the real deal and Defoe and Huddlestone should be in our midfield.

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Skins March 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I think its simply down to the style of play. Don’t remember Crouch being asked to head the ball very often last night, whereas when he plays for Spurs, we seem to resort to this ‘lump up to Crouch’ type tactic which really doesn’t play to either his or the teams strengths.

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Foggy March 4, 2010 at 2:35 pm

My thoughts exactly Skins,you could have counted on one hand last night the amount of times Crouch had to deal with a ball lumped up to him and still had a couple of fingers spare.

So why on earth aren’t these passing styles implemented in the Tottenham camp as we most definitely have the talent to create.

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jones March 4, 2010 at 6:33 pm

At last an article that identifies most of the right reasons why Spurs aren’t getting the best out of Crouchy while Capello can. You’ve pilloried him in recent weeks while not utilizing him correctly at all – look where his goals came from last night. Liverpool knew how to play him – which is why he was such a favourite with the Kop ( I’m not a Liverpool fan ). There is one other fundamental reason it doesn’t work for Spurs – Defoe. He’s selfish and has no vision.When has he ever combined with Crouchy this season to enable him to score the kind of goals he scored last night. Seems to me he’s got a vested interest in making sure Crouchy does not score when they are both competing for England places.
Its not thebest eleven players that make a team -its the eleven players that make the best team.
This weekend try Pav and Crouch – it worked last time they played together

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JimmyG2 March 4, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Jones.
You talk a lot of sense here. I posed the same question on another fan-site. Defoe and Rooney have not scored for England when paired together.
Defoe regards himself as our main striker and doesn’t do setting someone else up. Except accidently which he did for Pavlyuchenko against Everton.
He is ‘focused’ as they say but the team and Crouch might benefit if he was slightly less ‘in the zone’.

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Big Dave March 5, 2010 at 11:11 am

Sory, but I think the answer is much easier than all the analysis above suggests. The quality of the opposition, particularly keeping in mind their inexperience at defending against a big lump, is the answer. If he played for England against defences as good as those he faces week in week out (with the exception of Wigan!), he wouldnt get the goals. The supply argument is guff – Spurs have better creators in Modric, Lennon, Bale etc than England do. I’m as patriotic as the next man, but lets be honest here: the likes of SWP, Milner and Downing, who supply Crouch for England, wouldnt get into the Spurs side (aside from an injury crisis like the current one). And Crouch scored plenty for Spurs when Lennon was fit.

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