With the Euro’s squad picked and the debating raging on in England about how the side will line up, it got me thinking about the players that have missed out. Andy Carroll has made the side on the back of a few good games at the end of the season -when really he’s had a poor season overall. He may turn out to be a great player for England but there is a striker that has preformed for England on numerous occasions but has been left at home. This hasn’t even caused much of a discussion as the player in question is not really viewed as good enough for international football. After more internal analyzing it made me think about another similar striker who is more respected when it comes to international selection then his English equivalent. I’m referring to the cases of Peter Crouch and Miroslav Klose of Germany.
Here is a look at their scoring record:
- Crouch- 42 caps, 22 goals
- Klose- 115 caps, 63 goals
That works out to a goal every other game for each player. Now maybe this is my interpretation of the situation but when an England squad is announced and it happens to have Crouch’s name in it, it is automatically met with a sense of doubt and cynicism. This may be down to Crouch’s awkward appearance. Anyone who has seen the giant bean pole striker can not claim that he would fit into their traditional view of a center forward aka Alan Shearer or Andy Carroll. It’s this kind of perception that has seen him unable to shake his doubters. The fact that he has never been among the top goal scorers in the Premier League doesn’t help his cause either. in fact this season he only managed 10 league goals for Stoke City.
Now if we switch sides and analyze the case of Klose we find that his situation is not to dissimilar to Crouch’s. He also moved to new club this season, Lazio, and scored a respectable 12 goals. So what is the difference between the two? Klose has preformed for Germany at two World Cups and was part the side that made the Euro ’08 final. He scored five goals at both the 2002 and 2006 World Cup and is five goals behind record Germany goalscorer Gerd Muller. Klose is perceived as an international striker by the public where as Crouch is not. And this is the point- Klose scores at international level and has grained respect for that whereas Crouch hasn’t. Why is that?
Crouch has preformed when called upon by England, you could argue that he has only scored against weaker opposition but he can only score against the team in front of him. He did actually score in a friendly against their Group B opponents France in 2010. The fact that only one his England goals has come at an international tournament also doesn’t help his cause (against Trinidad & Tobago in 2006). During the 2010 World Cup he has handed the covered number 9 jersey but only managed to make 2 substitute appearances, he was overlooked in favour of Emile Heskey (whose record for England is not worth discussing). With Crouch’s record he would have expected to lead the England line ahead of a striker who has made missing the goal into an art form. He seems to be a victim of tactical choices as Capello felt Heskey could act as a battering ram up front to free up play for others but that didn’t work yet he never gave Crouch a chance to prove himself. Two sub appearances late in the game is hardly time to impose yourself. Crouch suffers from a view that he can be played as an impact sub, heading in long balls, but throughout his club career he’s never been used that way or has never really been successful in that role.
Back to Klose and if you study his club career his record is solid but not overly impressive. In fact apart from his 2005-06 season with Werder Bremen when he scored 31 goals, overall he has consistently struggled to reach 20 goals a season. He moved in 2007 to Bayern Munich for a shot at the big time in a move that was similar to Crouch’s transfer to Liverpool in 2005. But like his English counter-part his career never reached the heights he may have wished. He found himself regularly on the bench struggling to make the first team and a move to Lazio in 2011 followed. What is interesting is that even though he wasn’t scoring at club level his national side still called him up to lead their attack. That maybe because of a lack of other striking options but there is no doubt that when called upon Klose delivers for Die Mannschaft.
Roy Hodgson’s has picked his England squad and has chosen to over look Crouch despite the fact Wayne Rooney will miss the first two group matches. At 31 years old Crouch may not get many shoots at another international tournament, which is a shame for a player who has constantly had to live with the tag “good feet for a big guy”. When people look back at the record books and see his statistics for England they will be wondering how did this guy never get picked in the big matches. It would seem that scoring for England is not enough to get you into the side, you need more. Where as in Germany they seem to respect a players record at international level. That may work out well for Germany, they have one of the best squads at this years Euro’s and while they have a striker in Gomez who has a better domestic scoring record this season Klose can be confident that his record will speak for itself and may lead Germany to victory.
The overall point I’m trying to make with this ramble is that we shouldn’t be judging a player on his physical appearance or a perception we may have of them because of stereotypes we have learnt over time. Crouch may look unsightly but he is a good footballer. It’s one of the things that has held England back in their player development. If you’re not big and strong and can run from box to box for 90 mins you will not make it seems to be the theory. But players like Messi, Xavi and even Pirlo have rubbished that theory. And so to has Crouch.