18 Nov 2007

Crouch for sale as Rafa’s irrational vendetta continues

Rafael Benitez’s vendetta against Peter Crouch continues apace with newspaper reports claiming that he plans to sell the striker in January.

There is no excuse for the Spaniard's treatment of Crouch. Indeed, an in depth analysis statistics from last season prove beyond doubt that Crouch is one of Liverpool’s most effective players.

Despite Crouch's obvious worth, he is seemingly on his way out of Anfield. Jason Burt in The Independent claims:

“Liverpool set the ball rolling for Crouch's expected transfer by contacting a number of Premier League clubs earlier this week, partly in an effort to drive the price for the 26-year-old as high as possible".

This may just be typical press speculation; however, given the sheer volume of news agencies carrying the same story, there is probably truth to the story.

As Liverpool’s top scorer last season, Crouch was an integral part of the team that got to the Champions league final. This season, he has not been given a fair chance in any shape or form, ignominiously ignored for the tragically inept Dirk Kuyt.

No one can expect to walk straight into the team, but 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 off his nose to spite his face.

Quite simply, Benitez has fatally mismanaged Crouch and his statistics from last season prove that. And since Benitez is so fond of statistics, here are a few about Peter Crouch that prove his important, measurable impact on the team:

Season 2006/07


a) 19 premiership starts. 13 as a substitute (Total = 32 games).
b) 9 goals and 8 assists in 32 games
c) Directly responsible for 17 goals in 19 starts (A goal every 1.1 games).
d) Directly responsible for 17 goals in 32 games overall. (A goal every 1.8 games).

Overall, Crouch had a direct hand in a goal in 55% of the games he played.


a) 8 CL starts. 6 as a substitute (Total = 14 games).
b) 7 goals in 8 starts = A goal every 1.1 games.
c) 7 goals in 14 games overall = A goal every 2 games.

Overall, Crouch had a direct hand in a goal in 50% of the games he played.


a) 3 games started. 2 goals scored.


a) A total of 49 games played (30 starts. 19 sub appearances).
b) Contributed 18 goals and 9 assists.
c) Direct involvement in 27 goals.
d) 18 goals from 30 starts = A goal every 1.6 games.

Overall, Crouch had direct involvement in 27 goals from 49 games (start and sub). This means he directly contributed to a goal every 1.8 games in which he played a part.

If we take Crouch’s England form into account:


a) 8 games played (4 starts and 4 sub appearances)
b) 8 goals scored in 8 games (Averaging a goal a game).


a) A total of 57 games: played (34 starts. 23 sub appearances)
b) 26 goals and 9 assists in 57 games.
c) Direct involvement in 35 goals.
d) 26 goals in 34 total starts = A goal every 1. 3 games.

Overall, Crouch had direct involvement in 35 goals in 57 games (start and sub), meaning he contributed to a goal every 1.6 games.


Premiership average:
STARTS: Scored/Assisted every 1.1 games.
START + SUB: Scored/assisted every 1.8 games.

CL average:
STARTS: Scored/Assisted every 1.1 games.
STARTS + SUB: Scored/Assisted every 2 games.

England average:
STARTS: Scored/Assisted every game.

The most compelling statistic is this:

All of Crouch’s 18 domestic goals and 7 of his assists came from starts.

Thus, we can disregard sub appearances, and his stats for Liverpool read like this:

Games started: 30
Goals scored: 18
Assists: 7

So, in 30 domestic starts, Crouch was directly responsible for 25 goals!! That is almost scoring or creating a goal every game!

But this is not good enough for Benitez! If any other striker in the world had that kind of average, they’d be praised and encouraged, instead of ignored and dumped on the sidelines.

Crouch’s statistics compare favourably with all the top strikers in the premiership, and if anything can be gleaned from his stats last season it is this: Start Crouch and he will score or create a goal for you.

The foundation of Benitez’s mismanagement of Crouch is his ridiculous rotation system. The stats don’t lie! As illustrated above, Crouch scored or created 25 goals in 30 starts!

Yet despite this, Benitez continually used him as a sub, and that has continued into this season. The fact the Crouch scores more goals when he starts can also be seen this season, with a comparison of CL and premiership games:

PL Games: 6 (2 starts – 4 sub)
Goals: 0.
Assists: 1

CL Games: 5 (4 starts – 1 sub)
Goals: 3

3 goals in 4 CL starts versus no goals in 2 Premiership starts.

It is plainly obvious that Crouch should start more games, and it is no coincidence that when Benitez HAS started Crouch this season, Liverpool have played better. Benitez should have built on Crouch’s massive progress last season and allowed him to blossom. Instead, he has developed some kind of personal vendetta against the player, and proceeded to trample on his confidence at every opportunity.

Yes, Crouch has a bad game every now and then, but what player doesn’t? After last season, Crouch was entitled to expect a fairer chance this season. If he has played below par in the odd game this season, it is because Benitez had damaged his confidence with his mismanagement of the player.

Indeed, Benitez’s penchant for mismanaging strikers extended to Fernando Torres earlier this season, with the Spaniard keeping him on the bench for two crucial league games (that Liverpool needed to win but didn't) then recalling him for a comparatively unimportant Carling Cup game!

So why has Crouch become an outcast on the verge of being sold? If you believe the press, it’s because of some kind of attitude problem. Indeed, John Edwards in the Daily Mail stated:

“The Liverpool manager believes Crouch's status as an England player has turned his head, to the detriment of the work ethic that made him such a valuable team player”

Complete and utter codswallop.

There is absolutely no evidence to back this up. Furthermore, Crouch has been a model professional at Liverpool, and all his previous Managers have nothing but glowing praise for the player.

The accusation that Crouch’s attitude is to blame is vicious slander designed to twist the minds of fans and hasten his exit from Anfield. I have no idea if this myth is perpetuated by Liverpool or Benitez, or if it is just press sensationalism. Either way, it is out of order.

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 earlier in the season:

“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 and insult to the player. That is *exactly* what Crouch has been doing ever since his arrival at Liverpool. Indeed, he has been a superb professional. It is Benitez’s pig-headed stubbornness which is the problem here. Basically, if you criticize his rotation policy, you are out.

Incidentally, Momo Sissoko also made public comments recently about Benitez’s incessant rotation and guess what – Sissoko is also linked with a move away in January. Coincidence? I think not.

As the statistics above prove, there is no logical or acceptable reason for Liverpool to sell Peter Crouch. He offers something different to every other Striker in the premiership. He scores goals. He creates goals. He has superb technique and touch, and can only get better.

Dirk Kuyt is the striker who should be sold, not Crouch. Kuyt’s statistics and goal threat pale in comparison to Crouch, and this season, his limitations have been cruelly exposed.

But this will not matter to Benitez; he will persist with the pedestrian Kuyt and get rid of Crouch, despite Andrei Voronin and Kuyt being very similar types of players.

If Benitez sells Crouch, it will be one of his worst Managerial decisions, and will once again expose the Houllieresque irrational stubbornness that will eventually be his downfall.


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