Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has said on numerous occasions just how good Peter Crouch is, regardless of whether he scores or not. Crouch went a long time without scoring, much to the delight of a large part of England. When he played for England he was booed by his own supporters, which made him loved all the more by his own true supporters, the Reds fans. Liverpool fans have seen a lot of quality over the years, and have always taken to their hearts any player that gives his all for the Red shirt. Crouch fitted into both categories, and once he started adding goals to everything else he was doing then Crouchamania really started to set in.
Rafa knew all along what he’d bought, and that it was only a matter of time before Crouch would start hitting the net. More and more “neutrals” are now seeing just how good Crouch is, they are looking beyond the height of the player and see just how much Liverpool have benefited from having him in their squad.
Rafa was delighted to see Crouch get Liverpool’s winner against West Brom today. He said after the game: “Peter Crouch was playing well before he started scoring. Now he is even better and with goals. We have more options and we are more difficult for defenders with goals coming from all our strikers. Peter is confident, scoring goals, and that is giving us all confidence and the team is improving all the time.” Crouch has been confident from day one at the club, never once letting anything get to him. His confidence in the early stages of the season, in the face of so much tripe being aimed at him, has certainly rubbed off on his team-mates.
Crouch’s delight at getting on the scoresheet today was in start contrast to the emotions of his England colleague and former Red Michael Owen. A Reds hero so many times, Owen today became football’s latest broken metatarsal victim. He awaits further consultation over the break to the bone on the outside of his foot, but already announcements are being made that he will be out for “several months”. Whether Owen will be 100% fit again in time for Germany remains to be seen, but perhaps some of those England fans that mocked Crouch when he represented their country will now be hoping that his run of form and increasing confidence keeps going all the way to Germany, just in case Owen is unable to play to his best abilities.
Most Liverpool fans will be sorry for their former hero Owen, but not for England. In fact Liverpool fans would be happy to see their own English players kept at home to rest throughout the summer after a long season rather than represent the “three lions” in Germany. This applies even more so after the English establishment once again snubbed the European Champions. Rafael Benitez’s Champions League winning side made their fans, their city and – or so they thought – their country extremely proud back in May. Against all the odds they worked their way to the final, where they won a game that many have said was the best European Cup game of all time.
On their return to England they were welcomed by millions of fans in a real display of that pride that their fans and their city had in them. An open-top bus tour of the city was way behind schedule as an unprecedented number of people came out to see them. Despite all of this, the British government chose to ignore these achievements in today’s New Year’s honours list. Despite these achievements, Liverpool did not receive one single award in this list of what are becoming increasingly meaningless awards.
It’s hard to see any rational reason why Liverpool were missed. It’s not like the awards are in short supply. This is quite obvious when you see that the whole England cricket squad received an award in this list. What did they get them for? They got them for beating Australia. They didn’t have to qualify by beating other sides in order to be able to play against Australia. It is a “tournament” that always sees them face the same opposition. More often than not they lose this tournament, so maybe their win this summer was celebrated so much was because it made a change from the norm. We’re no fans of cricket ourselves, but from what we can gather England haven’t been doing too well since they won this closed tournament in the summer.
Seeing as Australia win it themselves so much, and also seeing as the Queen is still the head of state for Australia, we assume that all of the Aussie cricket squads have been honoured in the same way over the many years that they have won the Ashes.
Liverpool fans have already seen the British “honours” system as devalued and outdated. This was demonstrated very clearly when in 1999 Alex Ferguson won the European Cup for Manchester United and was knighted. Bob Paisley won three European Cups for Liverpool, and was never knighted. Joe Fagan won Liverpool’s fourth European Cup, and again was never knighted. It says a lot about the honours system that Ferguson was spending a lot of time supporting Tony Blair around the time he received the touch of the Queen’s sword. The Queen has little if any say in who picks up these awards, she just dishes them out.
Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher will treasure their European Cup winners’ medals infinitely more than they would ever appreciate an OBE or an MBE. Most people don’t really know – or care – what the difference is between and OBE or an MBE. The medals that Stevie and Carra already own are harder to come by than the Royal gongs – only twenty-five are produced in any one year. So it’s no great loss to those Reds to receive this snub.
What may be a great loss is if those Reds choose to return the compliment later in 2006. The British government would be delighted to see the English football team do well in the World Cup in Germany. Steven Gerrard has already missed one World Cup for England so that he could undergo surgery. Thanks to the actions of the English FA, Liverpool’s season started on July 13th, meaning that by the time the World Cup comes round their players will have been on competitive duty longer than any other players in the tournament. Will the pride of playing for their country help them overcome the inevitable tiredness they will feel by then?
As things stand, any English Liverpool players are more likely to feel extremely unwell at the thought of representing their country.