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Birmingham 1 Spurs 1: Why is Peter Crouch not up for it?
Published : 06 Dec 2010 00:15:52
As Peter Crouch and Nikola Zigic will no doubt testify, being the tallest players in the Barclays Premier League affords them certain benefits. For a start, you are an obvious target for your team-mates - and, as height is the only other weapon apart from pace against which it is impossible to defend - both have another added advantage. Statistics show that just one half of an inch separates the pair but while Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish is slowly coaxing out the best from his Serbian import following a slow start - has Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp forgotten how to do likewise with his own striker? Not up for it: Birmingham's Roger Johnson outjumps Spurs striker Peter Crouch Zigic may have turned a corner after his deflected winner against Aston Villa. On Saturday, he was chiefly responsible for Craig Gardner's late equaliser after scaring the living daylights out of Spurs' defence in the 1-1 draw. Enlarge And if the former Red Star Belgrade man can do that with the limited supply offered from wide areas at St Andrew's, why is Crouch suffering with Aaron Lennon and Gareth Bale patrolling the flanks? One goal in the Premier League from 10 starts left 4,000 visiting fans howling for the introduction of Roman Pavlyuchenko. Little was done to quieten those protests when Crouch twice spurned chances during a first half of Spurs domination. In Europe, the England forward has been unstoppable. Six goals so far have fired him up the club's goalscoring charts. But there was perhaps a hint of jealousy in the forward's words at the final whistle when he said: 'I think with the way we played in the first half, we would have won. But we couldn't really deal with the long balls they were playing in the second half - and that was frustrating.' Sebastien Bassong, who scored Spurs' 19th-minute opener, and William Gallas tried to look the other way - as if it wasn't happening. But it was almost embarrassing the number of times that Zigic knocked the ball back into space at the far post. 'First half we played ever so well,' said Redknapp. 'But once we started dropping deeper and they brought Zigic on, he had a few headers and they penned us in.' Take that: Craig Gardner (R) celebrates his equaliser for Birmingham as Gareth Bale looks on At least Crouch has the comfort of heading to Holland this week to face FC Twente in the Champions League on Tuesday, a trip he might regard as sanctuary after a difficult spell in the English domestic league and with his national team. Or perhaps not. 'I won't be resting anyone over there,' said Redknapp. 'We need to finish top.' Whether Crouch still remains in his first-choice XI remains to be seen. Well Peter, try following the lead of Zigic...So, he's the tallest man in the Barclays Premier League is he? Oh yes, all 6ft 7½ in of him. And he's made a 'big' impact already? Well, after 84 minutes of watching the Birmingham forward play against Villa in midweek, the jury at St Andrew's was out. But 60 seconds later he got the winner and he's a hero. Yes, fans are that fickle. Follow my lead: Zigic and Crouch shake hands at the final whistle But we notice he's scored a couple of times. Yes, although he's been a victim of Alex McLeish playing one up front. The service has not been plentiful and Cameron Jerome has sometimes had the nod over him because of his pace. How has McLeish handled him? Well, McLeish said: 'When I brought Zigic in, I showed him lots of videos of Crouch. It didn't come overnight for big Peter, but he's now a player most teams would like because he's not onlygreat in the air but he has a great touch for a big fella.' And what does McLeish think now? 'Zigic isn't a boy. He's 29 years old. He's been used to a slow, technical build-up abroad, particularly in Spain. He's been coached differently. He runs a lot to the far post.' 'But you buy someone for £6m when you are Birmingham's manager and he doesn't get the time to settle in. Eduardo wasn't seen for eight months when Arsene signed him for Arsenal. I don't have that luxury.' And what does Zigic think? 'The expectation doesn't bother me,' he said. 'Nor does the mickey-taking about my height. It's inspired me to be where I am now.' Birmingham 1 Spurs 1: Gardner sews seeds of recovery as Blues come backPeter Pannu says lost boy David Gold is welcome back to BirminghamBIRMINGHAM CITY FC