28 Oct 2007

The emasculation of Peter Crouch

Rafael Benitez’s cruel emasculation of Peter Crouch becomes more disgraceful with each passing game...

The Spaniard's pig-headed, Houllier-esque refusal to utilise Crouch for more than a few minutes at a time is further evidence of the tragic flaw that will ultimately lead to his downfall...

That flaw is irrational Stubbornness.

The Besiktas debacle is a prime example: The toothless Voronin/Kuyt partnership carried zero goal threat and the game was crying out for something different. Crouch could have been that difference, yet Benitez chose to ignore him until the 83rd minute.

Crouch was given *7 minutes* to try and influence the game. Whilst this was clearly an insult to the player and probably damaged his confidence further, the more worrying aspect was Benitez’s seemingly abject stupidity.

Prior to Besiktas, Crouch had scored 8 goals in the 10 previous champion’s league games. What Manager with any nous would ignore a striker with that record, especially when the team was crying out for goals?!

It is this obdurate inflexibility that is hampering Liverpool’s progress. Whether it’s the laughably ineffective rotation system or the sidelining of in-form players, Benitez is his own worst enemy, and will never win the league with Liverpool unless he adapts his methods.

Dumped on the scrapheap

There is just no excuse for the treatment of Peter Crouch. As Liverpool’s top scorer last season, Crouch was an integral part of the team that got to the Champion’s league final. He has not been given a fair chance this season in any shape or form, and that is what is most disappointing.

No one can expect to walk straight into the team. However, Crouch’s incrementally increasing goals tally merited, at the very least, a fair crack of the whip. Instead, Crouch has been dumped on the scrapheap and Benitez has basically cut his nose off to spite his face.

The reason Crouch is on the blacklist has nothing to do with his ability and everything to do with his tame public comments about Benitez’s rotation policy, and example of which is below:

“There are times when it can be frustrating, but I fully understand the manager’s thinking and when called upon, I just have to make sure I am ready. Hopefully I can play a few more games than I have been doing, but I’m not too frustrated".

Hardly a damaging rebuke; However, Benitez wasted no time responding:

"It is fair to say that he [Peter Crouch] has to evolve with the team - and show the right character and mentality".

Show the right character and mentality?! What a joke. That is *exactly* what Crouch has been doing ever since his arrival at Liverpool. Indeed, he has been a model professional. It is Benitez who has made the problem here, not Crouch. In addition, it is Benitez’s treatment of Crouch that has led to inconsistency of performance and shattered confidence.

Now I am not the biggest fan of Peter Crouch, however, I passionately believe that fairness is of the utmost importance when it comes to dealing with footballers, or indeed anyone. Benitez clearly took offence at what he perceived to be a public attack, and consequently banished Crouch to the footballing wilderness.

Professional negligence

Gerard Houllier had the same unpleasant streak, illustrated by his treatment of players like Jari Litmanen, Markus Babbel and Nicolas Anelka. Disturbingly, Benitez is displaying the same negative traits as Houllier: Illogical stubbornness syndrome; refusal to change tactics or approach; obsession with statistics like (But we had x amount of shots on goal); increasingly redundant excuses and blindly persisting with out of form/poor players whilst sidelining in form/better players for no solid reason.

Whilst Fernando Torres is injured, the Voronin/Kuyt partnership flounders and Liverpool are struggling for goals, Peter Crouch MUST be given a chance. It is not only WRONG, it is CRIMINAL to keep ignoring Crouch. In fact, I would argue that it is bordering on professional negligence. The job of any Manager in ANY industry is to utilise his workforce to achieve the best possible result for the company/team.

Benitez is not doing this, and if he continues in this intractable manner, he will have something else in common with Houllier: The status of 'former Liverpool Manager'.


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