Crouch on fire for a now grateful England

Liverpool’s Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard scored three of England’s five goals last night between them, as their country opened their qualifying campaign for the next European Championships with a victory over Andorra.

A year ago Peter Crouch was embarking on his Liverpool career to the sounds of a lot of criticism, mainly from people who didn’t like his height. Boos when appearing for England are an embarrassing memory for most England fans now, although Liverpool fans won’t let them forget their nastiness. Crouch has recovered to such an extent though that new England boss Steve McClaren, taking charge of his first competitive match as manager, had high praise for the forward: “He's phenomenal!” said McClaren after the win last night.  

He’s now scored 10 times for his country in his 13 appearances, a
record that puts him as third most prolific England scorer when
compared to the top five all-time top goalscorers for England. A couple
more games without a goal will see his goal ratio plummet of course, so
it’s best to compare him perhaps at the end of that next European
Championships tournament, but for now, he’s doing very well.

Goalscoring Ratios, EnglandMcClaren was pleased with this record: “What a record he has. He
received great service from Stuart Downing and Steven Gerrard, but he
still had to score. He is a great team man. I wouldn't say he is
undroppable, but when he's scoring goals at the current rate you need
him in the team. He was phenomenal and he's doing very well at the

With Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen out of contention at the moment
Crouch would be forgiven for not being too confident about keeping his
place long term – but why should be concerned? He’s just got to keep
showing what he can do on the pitch.
McClaren had another stat about Crouch, the all-round great guy: “We
have computer statistics that show he constantly runs further than
anybody during a match.”

Crouch was asked about Owen and Rooney, but he said that he’ll do
whatever he can to give the boss a hard time choosing: “They are big
players who will want their places back in the team but all I can do is
express myself whenever I'm given the chance. It's great to be
performing in a team which is playing so well. I'm scoring goals and
enjoying it. I love playing for England.”

Crouch went on: “I've dealt with criticism my whole career but maybe
now I am starting to get the kind of respect I deserve. I'm scoring
goals. Ever since I came into the England side I think I have done
well, and people have started to realise I have a part to play with my
country and I'll be able to do so for a long time.”

His team-mate at club and country level, Steve Gerrard, was also
gushing in his praise for Crouch: “Peter's goal record is frightening,
I'm sure he was disappointed not to get another hat-trick yesterday. He
is a great finisher. You know if Peter gets the right service he's
going to put the ball in the net.”

Gerrard was able to provide that service yesterday, with him now having
much more freedom since Beckham was removed from the England squad.
McClaren isn’t frightened of making his own decisions so far, if
carries on then before too long Crouch could make sure another former
Manchester United player is forgotten. Gerrard said: “The way he's
going he's going to beat Bobby Charlton's record and I hope he does.

Crouch said that his club captain was chatting to him about Charlton’s
record: “Steven Gerrard said to me about Bobby Charlton's record in the
dressing room. I have just got to keep going. I am enjoying myself at
the moment and have just got to keep going. We are a creative team and
it is great to play in a team like this when you going to get chances
and I got a couple today. It is an attacking team and I know I am going
to get chances. I was disappointed not to get the hat-trick.”

Gerrard himself is happy with his new position for England, the one
he’s done so well with at club level. He said: “The manager deserves
credit for giving me freedom to express myself and I have always said
you will get the best out of me if I am free and allowed to go forward
and set up attacks and get shots on goal.”