Gerrard still has a good few playing years ahead of him, but there’s no harm in thinking ahead: “Of course, I’m still only 25 and the end of my playing career is still a long way off but the future is something that is constantly on my mind. Whatever happens I hope it is something linked with Liverpool. I learn things from the manager and coaching staff at Melwood every day and if I did ever become a boss then they’d influence me greatly, as would all the other fantastic manager’s and coaches I have worked under. My ideas and tactics would be based on theirs.”
Stevie also revealed some of the fun that Rafa and his staff are bringing to the training sessions at Melwood: “As part of our warm-up one day in training recently we did a bit of shadow boxing. It was the manager’s idea and it was just good to do something different. He must have got out of bed that morning, felt like Mohammed Ali and decided to get us all doing it. He ended up getting into a toy fight with Darren Potter though and came out the loser so I don’t think he’ll be doing that again!”
Crouch feels that the support of his manager and the fans of his own team is what matters most of all, and that’s helped him to keep working away. The attitude of others, especially pundits, has been disgraceful and that’s not gone unnoticed by Crouch: “I’ve not been unduly affected by the criticism because of our fans’ support. It has taken me aback just how negative other people have been. I suppose that’s what happens if you don’t get on the scoresheet and I’m learning that when you join a high profile club you become an instant target.”
The taunts from so many parts of the media about the player’s height are becoming tiresome, but Crouch won’t let it get to him: “Things are scrutinised a lot more here, but as long as I’m doing a job which the manager, my team-mates and the fans are happy with, I won’t let it get me down. Maybe the criticism built up after the England game, but I’m not really interested what anyone outside Liverpool thinks now. Nobody here has a problem with me, so everyone else can say what they like.”
By using words like, “I’m not really interested what anyone outside Liverpool thinks now,” Crouch has endeared himself all the more to Reds fans – Liverpool come first, international stuff is a bonus at best. One of Liverpool’s most popular players is known to have that attitude towards England – he’s delighted to get a chance to play for them, and will give them his all, but they are second to Liverpool in his priorities.
Crouch was the most important player involved in the goals on Saturday without actually scoring, but was disappointed to miss out on breaking his duck: “I was gutted I couldn’t get that first goal on Saturday because I had the chances. I was delighted Xabi finished off the second, but I must admit I wanted it to be me celebrating a goal.”