The England national team went into the last World Cup with a squad containing only four strikers, two of whom were injured and one who had yet to play in his club’s first team. The other striker was fully fit and had many years of first team experience but he was disliked by the media and the section of England fans who can’t think for themselves. So disliked that one England “fan” and his work colleagues (he’s probably not got any friends) set up a website demanding he be excluded from the squad. The player was so disliked that he had been booed onto the pitch in previous internationals – by his own “fans”.
The player, as always, shrugged off this criticism from people. All his adult life he’s listened to abuse and prejudice because of his height, and as long as those who mattered to him thought he was doing OK he wasn’t going to give up. There was a feeling for some though that the outgoing England manager had also fallen for this hype that the player wasn’t any good, that he had only picked this player along with two crocks and an untried teenager as an attempt to get revenge on the country that had got fed up with him.
If that had been true – and of course it’s highly unlikely – then the plan nearly backfired. The player is of course Liverpool’s Peter Crouch, and he made sure any such plans would not work because he started scoring. In came the robot dance in celebration of goals scored in a friendly and he carried this on. He wasn’t picked for every game in the World Cup (again it adds weight to this “revenge” theory) but whenever he has been picked for club or country he looks like scoring, and in many cases has.
England don’t deserve our Peter for the way they treated him, but with a new manager on board he looks finally to be getting recognition, and the sheep-like sections of the England support might have realised that they ought to think with their own minds. Five goals in three games under that new boss have helped too, taking his overall England total to eleven goals from fourteen appearances.
Wayne Rooney has been suspended for previous England qualifying games for the Euro 2008 finals and is expected to start this Saturday against Macedonia. Now Rooney is the target of criticism with stats saying he’s not very good all of a sudden and so Crouch has had to speak up for him. The 25-year-old says that if they play up front together it could work to great effect: “If we're given the chance to play as a pair we'll do well. I think we can complement each other; Wayne will be the one to drop off and I'll get myself in the box. If I play as high up the pitch as possible and he plays around me – that really can work.”
Crouch went on: “He's been criticised for not scoring much recently, but even when he doesn't he gives the team so much and it's just a matter of time before he's banging them in.” As with all strikers one goal might just be the confidence boost to get things going for Rooney. At the moment Crouch isn’t lacking any of that, as he says: “Every time I walk out on the pitch for England I feel I'm going to score and do well so confidence-wise I'm doing fine. I just want it to carry on. It's important to win whoever scores, but I'd love to keep the run going.”