Deconstructing the Crouch Signing, Limb By Gangly Limb
There is a scene in 80’s thriller Black Rain in which the character played by the cracking Andy Garcia gets himself into a rather bad-tempered war of words and finger-wagging with some rather devious Japanese gangsters. In fact, the situation escalates a tad worryingly for Garcia, who soon finds himself defenceless, and faced by one of the said gangsters who is now tootling around on a motor-bike whilst wielding a great big samurai sword. As the gangster approaches him, sword a-flailing, Garcia’s angry expression turns to one of peculiarly calm resignation. Not panic, nor terror; more a philosophical acceptance of his fate. The deed is duly done, and Garcia’
s head and body part ways, but that expression he wore has rather stuck with me.It
’s the expression I now wear on learning that we have now signed Peter Crouch, for an undisclosed fee of presumably around £10 mil, give or take. Buying Peter Crouch leaves me feeling a little bit like I’m about to have my head chopped off by a gangster on a bike with a sword – it ain’t great, but there’
s nothing I can do about it. (Sign Patrick Viera and I reckon I’ll have the expression of John Hurt when the alien nipper came a-popping out of his chest – but that’s an argument for another day…)Peter Crouch is a decent player. Good touch, pretty quick feet. While he has a curiously prolific scoring record for his country, he is not really a goalscorer - nor is he being bought for that purpose. Bent scores more goals, Pav is probably a more skilful player, but Crouch is being bought to bring the best out of Defoe. He will probably do so a fair degree of success, judging by their time together at Pompey, and indeed Defoe has been notably fulsome in his praise of the freakish one.
It is also worth noting that he is presumably a striker against whom opposition defenders would not particularly relish playing, due to his sheer gangliness
– and doing what the opposition don’
t want you to do is generally regarded as a good thing. (I am reminded of the fantastic England-Argentina friendly in late-2005, a cracking contest of opposing styles, with South American technique and English bustle slugging it out toe-to-toe. With England trailing 2-1 Crouch was slung on for the last few minutes, and managed to make a sufficient nuisance of himself at crosses for Michael Owen to steal in with a couple of late goals.)Yep, Peter Crouch is a decent player – but then this is precisely the reason I wear my look of philosophical resignation. He’s a decent player, and not much more than that. Not in the Palacios/Modric class, that will push us forward a step or two. He is Premiership standard. The top four in the country did not express any interest in him – instead we fought off Sunderland and Fulham for his signature. Morevoer, as I noted last week, he’s not as good in the air as he ought to be (didn’t work his back muscles enough as a teen, apparently), and he can encourage teams to resort a little too willingly to a long-ball game.
Still, we have him now. These, on the faceless forums of the interweb, are the times to grumble, moan and generally peer at the other side of the fence where the grass is always greener. Once Crouch’s comical frame goes lolloping across the hallowed turf at the Lane, on 16th August, we’ll give him a raucous cheer and hope that ‘Arry has got it right. He has, by and large, got it right so far.