Crouch will talk to Rafa then decide his future

When Rafael Benítez signed Peter Crouch three years ago it was a transfer that attracted criticism from some fans. Peter Crouch considers Anfield futureWhen Crouch went on a run of nineteen games without scoring his first Reds goal the criticism was coming mainly from the press, with the fans taking him under their wing and encouraging him more and more in every game.

When he did score, his goal was officially classed as an own goal by a PA reporter who, given his decision to rule another one out in a later game (against Newcastle in December), seemed to be enjoying Crouch’s drought. But by then fans had taken Crouch to their hearts, and were disputing the PA reporter’s resentful decision. He scored a second in the same game anyway, so one way or another he’d opened his Reds account. And the official panel who sit and look at such disputed goals ruled against the reporter, and Crouch’s first goal stood. As did the other disputed goal when the panel sat in judgement of that.

He ended the season with eight league goals, plus another three in the FA Cup including the one that knocked Manchester United out on the way to Cardiff, along with two in the World Club Championship in Japan.

He increased his total to 18 in all in his second season, last season, with seven of his goals coming in Europe. This season his total, with one game left and no guarantee he’ll play in it, is just eleven goals.

But his appearances have been restricted this season. Both of his first two seasons saw him play a total of 49 games, but this season he’s been restricted to just 36. In that first season he started 42 of his 49 games, the second season 30 of the 49 games, this season 21 of the 36 games.

He’s started just nine of the 21 league appearances he’s made this season.

But despite the press linking him with a move away from Anfield even last summer, never mind over the course of a season where he’s rarely been used, he’s never been one to go around complaining: “I’ve always got on with it and tried to keep my mouth shut and just play when called upon,” he said. “I know I’m not going to play every game at Liverpool, but the year before I had a good season. I played a lot more than this year and ended up scoring 18 goals. It’s got worse this year and that can be frustrating.”

He missed out on a chance of playing in what may be his last time as a member of a Champions League squad when Rafa chose Jermaine Pennant and Ryan Babel as replacements ahead of him in the recent semi-final. He found it difficult to sit there and not be able to help his team-mates: “When you’re losing a game and you’re on the bench, I always think I’m going to get on. Not getting on against Chelsea was frustrating and disappointing. It’s something I’ve had to cope with quite a bit this season.”

Understandably, Crouch now seems to have decided the time to keep his mouth shut is over. He’s got some thinking to do, if he’s not made his mind up already: “I want to play for Liverpool in the Champions League and win things, but am I really achieving these things if I’m missing out on these big games? You are part of the squad, but there are times when you feel like you’re not achieving that. Whether you want to win things like that or play football is for me to make the decision in the summer.”

And there’s no shortage of interest. Liverpool, it would seem, could prefer him to join his former club Aston Villa, because that could help them in their attempts to sign Gareth Barry, a deal that is currently relying on using Scott Carson as part of the offer. But another former club of Crouch’s, Portsmouth, seem to be favourites to sign him.

“It’s always nice to know that if things did go completely wrong for me at Liverpool,” he says, “I’d have options to go somewhere else and it’s not the end of the world if things don’t work out for me there. I’ve not heard from Portsmouth whether they want me or not – certainly not contract talks. I’ve not spoken to them about any money.” Recent reports suggest Harry Redknapp is willing to offer Crouch £75,000 a week.

As Crouch says, it’s not the first time a club’s been linked to him: “All season there has been speculation I could be going to another club. I’ve just always got on with playing for Liverpool until told otherwise.”

Harry Redknapp helped to fuel the speculation last month when asked about his possible interest in Crouch: “There will be plenty of takers for Crouchie if he becomes available, he’s a good player. But I do like him. If Liverpool decided to sell him there would be plenty of clubs in for him.”

But Crouch’s four-year deal is about to go into its final year. Some reports have suggested that it’s been Crouch holding back from signing a new deal, but he denies this – there’s been no deal to sign: “There’s no contract on the table,” said Crouch. Maybe it’s waiting for someone to answer their phone: “I spoke to Rick Parry halfway through the season and that’s when there was all sorts going on with the owners and no-one knew who was going to own the club, let alone what my role at the club would be.”

Unfortunately that remains the same – nobody really knows who is going to own the club, or how long it’s going to take them to do so. No new money will be put into the club until the ownership situation is resolved, and that means budgets are tight. It still shouldn’t stop contract talks being held – as Sami Hyypia’s recent 12-month extension proves , but according to Crouch no talks have taken place: “They said they’d like to offer me one (new deal) and we said we’d love to talk. That was midway through the season and now we’re going to the end of the season, we will talk. It was just a five-minute chat. There was no money discussed or anything like that and everyone at Liverpool will tell you the same.”

As it was, he wouldn’t have signed a new deal even if it had been offered back then: “At the time I wasn’t playing so there was no way I could commit and no way they could ask me to.”

And according to Crouch it’s one of the few club issues not tied up with the difficulties caused by the arguments at the upper levels of the club: “It’s not really a question of who owns the club; it’s about me not having enough games this season and wanting to know what the plans are for next season.”

In the earlier part of the season Rafa seemed to prefer Torres and Kuyt as his strike options, persevering with Kuyt through a barren spell much like he’d done with Crouch in that barren spell of his own at the start of his Anfield career. By the end of the season Rafa had started to a use a new system, Torres up front alone, although not in any way isolated due to the back-up right behind him of three attacking players, usually Kuyt, Babel and Steven Gerrard. But that system really only suits Crouch in one of its positions – the one held by record-signing, new Kop hero, and most importantly 32-goal Fernando Torres. However you look at it, Crouch is going to find it hard to be a regular starter under Rafa Benitez next season and onwards.

That could impact his England career, which adds more weight to his thoughts of leaving Anfield: “I always feel when I’ve been in the squad I’ve done well for England, so hopefully that won’t change, but I do have to be playing for my club more than I have done this season. Any player with aspirations of playing for England needs to be playing regularly. The England manager wants players who are playing regular football and that’s what I want, too.”

So now it’s time for Crouch to speak to Rafa, if nothing else just for confirmation that his fears are justified: “What I must do is speak to the manager. When all is said and done, I don’t think I can have another season like this year where I’ve started nine Premier League games. Out of a 38-game league season, nine games is not the amount you want to be playing. I’ll have to speak to the manager and see what his plans are. I need to see him and sort things out.”

He missed out on a place in the 16-man squad for the Manchester City game, and chose not to even come to the game for the traditional end-of-season lap-of-honour, which usually sees all the squad take a bow, regardless of whether they played that last game.

When the Liverpool squad breaks up for the summer Crouch hopes to be involved in a couple of international friendlies, but wants to speak to the manager first: “I’ll continue to work hard and I’ve got two England games in the summer to concentrate on, but before then I do have to speak to the manager. I have to find out what he wants from me for next season and whether or not I can continue with that. In some ways I want to feel wanted. I’ve got a few questions I want to ask him, and I’m sure he has with me, too.”

It sounds like he’s still not quite made up his mind: “I’d like to speak to the manager and the club before I commit to anything and know whether or not I’ll be here next year.”

Crouch’s team-mate John Arne Riise got a clearer indication of his future when he found out Liverpool had included him as an option in their bid for Villa’s Barry. He says he’s no idea what the manager wants to do with him: “What the manager thinks, you never know” said the Norwegian international. “I feel that I could have heard something since I’ve been here for seven years, won everything we have won and played all the time.”

Riise’s frustration is understandable; he simply wants to know what’s going on.

Even more frustrated is Villa boss Martin O’Neill. His first disappointment came when Liverpool’s offer for Barry was revealed in a Liverpool Echo exclusive, making what had previously been just a rumour as far as the public were concerned into something official. Then ex-Red Patrik Berger rubbed salt into the wounds.

Berger is due to leave Villa in the summer anyway, the 34-year-old coming to the end of his contract and Villa having no intention of renewing it. He said to Barry, via the media rather than directly: “It is Liverpool, and if I was in Gareth’s position I would go there tomorrow. It is the opportunity of a lifetime. He is the heart of our team and it would be a massive challenge for him. It would be Champions League every year and he would be challenging to win trophies every year. It is some difference – and Liverpool doesn’t come after you every year.”

Villa manager O’Neill’s response to both the Liverpool bid and Berger’s advice is amusing – although perhaps not amusing to him or Villa’s fans. Berger won’t play again for Villa. O’Neill fumed: “The sad aspect of it is we’re paying Patrik’s wages for him to recommend one of our players to another football club – it’s ludicrous. I was really disappointed and surprised that Patrik, with all his experience, would make such an inappropriate comment.” O’Neill would probably also be disappointed and surprised to realise that Berger would have said much the same, in perhaps more detail, in private to Barry.

O’Neill’s reaction gives the impression of someone who might have players laughing at him behind his back if he isn’t careful: “I think Pat realises that now and he’s apologised. He said he didn’t mean a great deal of harm but the harm has been done he won’t be playing any from here on in.”

He’s probably all the more annoyed that despite his own comments last week, after admitting an offer had been made, Barry is said now to be personally set on a move to Anfield: “Gareth Barry still has two years of his contract left to run and from my two years’ experience of working with him, he’s not one who would be wanting to break contracts lightly.” O’Neill said last week.

“I don’t want to be in a position of letting really good players go. Gareth Barry is a really good player who still has two years left on his contract. I haven’t discussed these things with him yet. At some stage obviously I will do, but the day before probably our most important game of the season is not the time to be discussing it.” Villa blew that game, losing 2-0 at home to Wigan, but still have a hope of getting fifth place and a UEFA Cup spot on the last day of the season if Newcastle beat Everton and Villa beat West Ham. But even a chance of UEFA Cup football next season is unlikely to tempt Barry into signing a new deal with Villa over joining the next Liverpool quest for Champions League success.

80 thoughts on “Crouch will talk to Rafa then decide his future”

  1. Eto’o to tottenham for 18 million. That would be a good signing for us…

    shame we don’t have 18 million tho!

  2. @raju: McDonald must have felt pretty undermined by O’Neill’s antics, and it’s hardly going to help the players to get mixed signals.

    Well done to the lads though, Villa’s side had more experience than ours but ours just knew what to do!

  3. Martin – Eto turned his nose up at LFC so I can’t see him wanting to go to spurs. Its silly season all the press have a field day linking every man and his dog to everyone else.

  4. Crouch off for up to 15 million…

    Barry in…

    Alonso maybe out….

    No positive resolution to the ownership battle in sight…

    had a crap day at work…..

    Sighhhhhhhhh….

  5. So there we have it, the rumoured budget of £30m for transfers appears to be coming as a result of selling Crouch And Alonso both valued by Rafa at £15m apiece. So once again our owners seem to be not dipping into their own pockets instead funding transfers by Rafa selling. No wonder we can’t keep up with the other 3. All we can assume is Rafa must truly love our club, why else put up with this shower of shit ownership. I don’t believe DIC would tell Rafa to sell before he can buy. I just hope he doesn’t waste 10m on Barry.

  6. @Fred: Where was that £30m rumoured?

    I’ve heard two versions of what the net budget will be. Neither are as much as £30m.

    Rafa’s comments today have been interpreted by some as a sign a resolution is close in terms of the ownership situation. I’m hopeful it is too, or at least that there’ll be a breakthrough. We’ll see.

  7. Rafa’s comments today suggest something may be resolved soon. I think we’ve heard that before. But then again ‘soon’ eventually comes to fruition…..doesn’t it?!

    30 million from player sales could be more IF he sells Riise, Pennant and Carson alongside Crouch and Alonso. Although I can’t see him selling his midfield general.

    The question remains: what money is Rafa getting from our so-called owners? Could someone clarify.

    On another subject, after his long absence from the field of play (our very own Darren Anderton aka sick-note) and taking a large chunk of money from the club, or rather us, the fans, for little play, Harry Kewell was offered the chance to show us he really believed in the Club – he supported as a boy?? – but instead he’s decided that he’d better look elsewhere, and not take the contract on offer from Liverpool. I’m sure, like his fellow Aussie Mr. Lucas Neil, it had nothing to do with the money on offer, right?!?!

  8. I read it here
    http://kop-tv.com/go/rafa-given-30million-for-summer-shopping/
    Not the most reliable source I know but where is?
    Kewell is a waster, he should pay back his wages and get done under the trades description act as he is certainly no footballer. I for one am glad he didn’t take a pay cut much better that he is leaving. Alonso doesn’t seem to be the player he was maybe he has lost his appetite, Riise is limited, and I thought Pennant might have done better but he just doesn’t perform on a regular basis. These are just my opinions I am sure others disagree.

  9. Last night the striker of Brugge FC died in a car crash, his name: François Sterchele. A promising lad, 22 years old, already in the national team. On TV I saw today a large banner put up in front of the stadium by Brugge fans (Brugge is the team we beat in a Wembley final some thirty years ago), and it was reading: ‘François, you will never walk alone’. I found this moving, and I thought, well fans in Liverpool don’t realize how the mythology of our great club affects fans everywhere. This is why the current mess must be resolved soon, the huge sympathy capital worldwide generated by LFC cannot be further reduced by the warmongery between the two American dummies.

  10. Anyone who thinks owners of any club should be dipping into their own pockets to fund transfers is not living in the real world. Unless there just happens to be a sugar daddy like Abramovich forget it.

    If ShareLiverpool got control of LFC how do you think transfers would be funded then? Once the initial capital had run out do you think they’d regularly pass the hat round?

  11. Why is it that when other clubs place ridiculous price tags on players its ok and yet when Liverpool want 15M for Crouch (who is a decent player and an England international after all) its desperation?

  12. Not really relating to la Crouchinho, but…

    I found this info on a Texas Rangers fan blog, and it refers to the steady decline of the size of the Rangers payroll and Hicks’s systemic business practice of filling a squad with mid-range players…

    “Only three teams in the American League have a payroll lower than the Ranges but Hicks said, “There wasn’t a player out there who we didn’t go after because of money. We went after the players we wanted. We just didn’t get a couple of the players we wanted.”

    You just have to show you’re really trying!

    And to emphasise this new miserly attitude – which has led to the Dallas Observer recently referring to him as a “billionaire buying knock-offs” – consider the following FACT: the Rangers are now ranked 21st in basic payroll out of the 30 MLB teams. When Tom Hicks took over they had the 5th highest payroll – more in line with their current standing as the nation’s 5th largest media market.

    It’s this new-found frugality, along with problems caused by the global credit crunch, that point to a pretty bleak future ahead for the Rangers. Especially given that Hicks now appears to be more interested in the Glorypark development around the stadium – in which he is the primary investor.

    The apparent indifference of Rangers fans toward what Hicks has done to their team (with very little in the way of public protest, etc) suggests that a lot have given up hope. Others – primarily his defenders – appear to be suffering from a form of ‘Stockholm syndrome’.”

  13. I hope something will happen soon. Rafa is now really
    testing the ”owners”. How many times has Rafa now repeated in the media of the need to act fast in the transfer market ..Is he AGAIN afraid of losing his targets, like last summer?
    Rafa has indicated he has the money / budget to sign two or three new players (so where is the money waiting?) and if he sells some players, (riise, crouch, pennant, and others) he can then buy more and replace them. Rafa is now talking to the media about transfers almost daily. He says he’s working hard with the scouting department and that Rick Parry is working hard also.
    So, it’s about the owners again now..
    -we are working hard and i try to talk to the owners and Rick Parry, if we get the green light we will progress with the targets..
    -i talk with them i talk with Rick Parry, talk with the owners, they say yes and we move forward..
    -i have some offers for players maybe we can sell and then buy, but we need to wait..
    Wait for what? Either they have the money or not? It’s not like they are losing money(incase of Potential takeover) if they invest for players, it will actually increase the value of the club when it has more valuable players with long contracts.
    So what’s the problem Gillett? Or Hicks?

    Jim, is Rafa trying to say something more with this comment? ”We try to sign players now, this month (may), not june or july, then we can control the pre-season”. Control the pre-season? Wasnt pre-season starting in early july when players return from holiday, why is it so important to sign them in may already? Okay, it’s important to get them before training will start, but in may? Could it be somehow connected to the ownership situation?

    Also im little bit worried about the names we are linked this year(barry and behrami apart): inler, dossetta, behrami, barry, bentley, degen, taylor, ramsey, rafinha, s.keita,
    when before it used to be: alves, amauri, chiellini, vargas, eto’o, villa, silva, quaresma..

  14. I may be wrong, but the name of Kenwyne Jones comes up for the first time in midland-red’s link above as a possible transfer target. This a player that I have found impressive this year, and a partnership with Fernando would be awesome. Also, if the Barry deal materialises and we manage to buy a great full back and a talented right-winger, I really think that, with all the talents coming from the reserves (Nemeth, Insua, Plessis, etc), we would no longer be deficient depth-wise and a genuine challenge for N° 19 could be on the cards.

  15. Julie, the hard truth is that the Rangers have a very half-hearted fan base, so I find it hard to imagine that they would ever mount much serious opposition to the way that any owner runs that franchise. In addition, Tom O was quite clever in that last year he hired Nolan Ryan, who would be the equivalent of Kenny Dalglish for Liverpool, as “the guy” (whatever his official title is) at the Texas Rangers.

    Tom has been on record as saying that you don’t need to build a winning team in order to make money, and he’s doing that with all three of the teams that he owns. That’s just a fact, whatever stooges like “Georgia Peach” might say.

  16. depending on what is done with the money, i would not really mourn crouch’s move. he had his moments, but he could also be an intensely frustrating player, and he missed a lot of chances, especially in big games. if hes not happy being a supporting player, then it it time that he moved on, because he is not of the class thats needed to win either the league or the champions league. that said, as a supporitng player he could be quite valuable, and the true test is to see what replacement could be brought in. the football gods help us if Andriy Voronin would be or second choice striker next season.

  17. “A less dysfunctional club than Liverpool would not have made the asking price for Crouch ((£15m), who has one year left on his contract, so prohibitive. But such is the lot of a manager with one co-owner (Tom Hicks) believed to be down to his last £10m and another (George Gillett) desperate to jump ship. It is a predicament which leaves Benitez disinclined to make the sale of Crouch an easy one.”

    Another piece of disgraceful PR from DIC via today’s Independent and an outrageous slur on our Texan co owner just doing his best for the club.

  18. Its not a matter of the owners dipping into their own pockets its a matter of them making funds available. As has been pointed out numerous times on this site and everywhere else the owners and pro hicks supporters claim he made funds available for Torres Babel and the other signings we have made but the reality is it was funds generated by the champions league run. Some posters are blinded by faith in the yanks when the reality staring us in the face is that our club is being whored around to anyone who cares to invest aslong as they agree with hicks and allow him to be the majority share holder. The club is at the moment becoming a laughing stock hence the reason many respected people including Dalglish Thompson and now Gerrard and Carragher are pointing out that the ownership needs to be resolved but hickafuckinbilly doesn’t have the funds and will not get the funds due to the current financial situation yet still people try to point out what a good owner he is and will be and how none of this shambolic shite is his fault. Who lied about debt,Klinsmann the stadium and told Rafa to stop pouting? Its bollocks and anyone who backs them is blinded by bullshit but hey lets just sit back and believe hicks and fall for his doe eyed LFC cup stroking interviews good ol’ uncle tom isnt that bad is he?

  19. But blinded by bullshit many people are I’m afraid, thats the way he made his money.

  20. Hop, I echo Fred – we are not asking for Hicks to pay for it out of his money. But to pay for players out of the money Rafa and team made for the club and all the money the fans put into it.

    We generated £54m in prize money alone last year and something similar this year. That is money that should be made available to the club and Rafa not to Hicks and Gillett’s bankers. Its our money they are using!!

  21. In addition, Tom O was quite clever in that last year he hired Nolan Ryan, who would be the equivalent of Kenny Dalglish for Liverpool, as “the guy” (whatever his official title is) at the Texas Rangers.

    Tom has been on record as saying that you don’t need to build a winning team in order to make money, and he’s doing that with all three of the teams that he owns. That’s just a fact, whatever stooges like “Georgia Peach” might say.

    1) Nolan Ryan is the President of the Rangers.
    2) Ummm… the Dallas Stars are in the Western Conference finals, genius.

  22. I really dislike this ‘trying’ bullet people are throwing at Hicks…

    he says you don’t need to win to make money, and I agree. you don’t have to win but if you’re making money, it certainly makes it easier too…

    and anyway, I’d want my club to be turning a profit.
    If it can turn a profit WITHOUT winning then that is ideal. it means the club is strong and self-suffficient…..something that EVERY club in the land is aiming to be….

  23. dawg, whenever I read your posts I’m always reminded of that sign that says:
    Scoop the Poop!

  24. I just feel that there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye. Having a hard time piecing it together but I feel there’s a lot of politics in the actions of everyone involved. I agree with what someone wrote on one of these posts in that Rafa’s statement about May and the fact it coincides with the ownership battle may have some significance, just not sure what it is!

    @Jim. From what you know, Hicks or otherwise, do you think that the transfer budget might change if an ownership resolution is met?

  25. georgia peaches,

    i could have taken the five seconds to google the exact title of nolan, but really, who cares? lighting rod is the most accurate description anyway.

    in addition, while comparisons between the NHL and the BPL are almost worthless, as you might know, there is no playoff system in the BPL.

    so a more accurate comparison would be final regular season standings. the stars were THIRD in their division. with only the FIFTH highest point total in the 15 team conference.

    in the NHL, mediocre regular season teams can have great stanley cup runs- i remember “my” team, the North Stars, doing just that in 1991, when they were quite poor in the regular season, but managed to get to the finals. that model doesn’t work in the BPL.

    and if you want to dispute whether or not hicks said the you dont need to create winning teams, please do that. otherwise, as hicks’ statement implicitly says, winning is basically serendipity, with the bottom line being his measure of a sporting team.

    my battalions operation officer had a great way of lampooning bullshit talkers (well, posters) such as yourself. he would impersonate obi won tricking the stormtroopers in the first star wars movie, saying “these are not the droids you are looking for.” i wonder if you think anyone is falling for your attempted jedi mind trick? dont get me wrong, i value your posts as “strawmen,” so keep them up.

    PS- tell tom o to give minnesota back the north stars after he sells up to DIC, and then ill forget my grudge against him. he can have the wild.

  26. (Standing up and giving a round ot applause to Cory for his last post – ah, the North Stars, hopeless but still one of the original six)

    Jim: BPL, I’m guessing, means British Premier League?

  27. First of all F@#$% OFF HICKS!…I agree with ray proudfoot.Rafa MUST get Berbatov.On top of that, David Villa,Gareth Barry,Stephen Downing,Bentley and players in the class of Ferdinand,Vidic for defensive cover,it really pains me to say this, ‘POOL will never triumph over Mancs unless Rafa bring in players like Berbatov,Villa and defensive rocks as mentioned above….Those Mancs is bunch of arrogant pricks from the Manager,players and down to their fans….Its always Man U this and that but WE WON IT 5 TIMES!!! ..C’on u REDS and stop Mancs and move forward to greater glory days ahead! YNWA

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