It’s ironic that Peter Crouch and Gareth Bale were two of the many heroes starring for Tottenham Hotspur Wednesday night in their impressive 4-0 win against Young Boys. Both players have received their fair amount of ridicule from not only armchair supporters, who have belittled them during parts of their career, but also managers who have often underrated the two players in question.
Throughout the 2010 World Cup, I was crying out for England to start Peter Crouch up front. He’s the type of player who is more skilled with his feet than his head. He’s difficult to defend because he adds a different dynamic to the teams he plays for, challenging for the high balls and causing havoc in the box. At Liverpool, he was underutilized by manager Rafael Benitez. He deserved first team football there, but got relegated to the bench. He made some appearances, mostly in Europe, but he wasn’t given the chance he deserved.
At Tottenham, Redknapp has been more open to playing Crouch. But even then, he’s not a guaranteed starter. But Tottenham gives Crouch the opportunity to play more often and to show us, the viewing public, how gifted the footballer is.
Gareth Bale is a similar story. After he came to the forefront at Southampton, he moved to Spurs and began lighting up the league. But he went through a spell of time at Tottenham where it seemed the manager’s tactics were to have him play more defensively. And as time went on, he became a running joke because it seemed that Tottenham could never win when he started a match.
At the same time, when I was watching Bale play for Wales during international games, he was a completely different player who was allowed to bomb forward and who completely ripped up the left wing. Then, a few days later, he would play for Tottenham and he looked like a completely different player, unable to do what he does best.
Thankfully both Peter Crouch and Gareth Bale have overcome the jokes that football supporters have made about them and need to be treated more seriously based on their on-the-pitch skills. Now that the Champions League beckons, we can hopefully these two players (among others) shine on the European stage. I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll perform.