Ask Crouchie! Our resident columnist is back to answer YOUR questions

Ask Crouchie! Our resident columnist is back to answer YOUR questions… Thiago Alcantara is Liverpool’s heir to Xabi Alonso, the Burnley board MUST back Sean Dyche, and why I’ve backed Bruno Fernandes for the Golden Boot!

  • The rules for keepers being marginally off their lines has diminished the game
  • Bruno Fernandes might win the Golden Boot with one penalty a week for United!
  • I would have no issue with a player not taking the knee if they had valid reasons  
  • Burnley have lost key men and Sean Dyche must be backed to restrengthen
  • Xabi Alonso came to mind when I watched Thiago Alcantara at Stamford Bridge 

Another week has generated plenty of talking points for Peter Crouch. 

From controversial penalties to late goals, glaring misses and footballers who can play the game in their slippers, Sportsmail‘s resident columnist tackles your questions…

Peter Crouch answers more of your questions as part of a weekly series here for Sportsmail

Before I start a rant, Stuart, the simple explanation is this. A throw-in, usually, isn’t going to lead directly to a goal. I’m not saying that is right, but there will be a couple of phases of play before a shot from a throw-in whereas the penalty is just one act.

Now, where do I begin on penalties? I think it’s a joke, to be honest. For years and years, you have known a goalkeeper is going to try to pinch an advantage at a penalty, moving a couple of feet to narrow the angle. So long as they aren’t three or four paces off their line, what’s the problem?

But here we are with the latest nonsense that video technology has brought on. Alisson made a superb save for Liverpool at Chelsea last Sunday and rather than celebrating I was wondering whether there would be a retake, as there had been at Old Trafford the day before with David de Gea.

Over the last couple of years, a few rules have crept in that have diminished the enjoyment of football. I can’t stand it, if I am honest. I’d go as far to say the little things are totally p*****g everyone off.

Rather than celebrating Alisson’s save I was wondering whether there would be a retake

How many penalties will Manchester United get this season?

Andrew Hidges via Twitter

Well, Andrew, I have backed Bruno Fernandes to win the Golden Boot and I have done so on the basis that I will hear ‘penalty to Manchester United’ once a week from now until May. There are 38 games, so I’m saying 38 penalties. Do you agree?

I found the spot-kick they got at Brighton on Saturday absolutely remarkable. 

I’m not sure how I would have felt to be on a side who thought they had a point at the final whistle, but then saw VAR come into play when the post-match handshake was going on. How does that work!

I have backed Bruno Fernandes to win the Golden Boot with a penalty a week for Man United

Would you ever leave a chance to score like Joelinton did for Newcastle at Morecambe?

Mark Jackson via email

In a word, Mark, no. Absolutely no way. If I was in Joelinton’s position, standing under the bar as the ball was dropping in front of me, I’d have nodded it in and I wouldn’t have cared less what anyone thought. 

If there’s even a one per cent chance the ball isn’t going in, you must put it away. I can give you a couple of examples right now of when I did it during my career. Jon Walters lost out on two goals to me at Stoke, one of which was almost a carbon copy of Joelinton’s. 

Jon had a header that was going in against Arsenal until I applied a devastating finish from one yard out to make sure.

There was another incident for England, in Steve McClaren’s first game in charge against Greece in August 2006. 

I feel sorry for Joelinton, as it shouldn’t be forgotten he scored two at Morecambe

Frank Lampard would have had a tap-in from four yards but I pushed him out of the way and finished it myself. Was he happy? No. Did I care? No. All I cared about was the goal.

I feel sorry for Joelinton, as it shouldn’t be forgotten he scored two at Morecambe. He didn’t do his team any damage. 

He is struggling for consistency, though, and Callum Wilson’s arrival has put him under even more pressure. Some days he looks a £40million player — other days, not so much.

What do you think would happen if a player refused to take a knee?

Barry Quelch via email

It is totally up to the individual, Barry. If I was in a team and someone said they did not want to take a knee, I would have no quarrel with them at all, provided they gave valid reasons. 

If they refused to do it to support something wrong, that would be totally different.

I listened to what Les Ferdinand said last week and I thought his points were strong.

Taking a knee was very powerful when it started happening earlier this summer, but has it lost some of its power? What I can tell you, though, is if I was still playing, I would be taking a knee without question.

Taking the knee (as Alex Lacazette and Willian are, above) is totally up to the individual

Is it true Barnet made an attempt to sign you before lockdown?

John Ford via email

You have heard more than me, John. I have crossed paths with Darren Currie, your former manager, a few times throughout my career and I’m panicking now in case I missed a message. 

Barnet isn’t too far away from where I live and I have always liked that black-and-amber kit. 

Tell you what, I’ll keep my phone switched on and if anyone is interested, I’m sure we could have a conversation!

I have crossed paths with Darren Currie but Barnet have not tried to sign me as far as I know

Will Arsenal benefit from empty stadiums?

Yaseen Chotta via Twitter

I don’t think you can underestimate how much of an impact this will have, Yaseen. There are some places that are absolutely horrible to go to as an away player — Sheffield United, Leeds, Wolves, Everton — where you know the fans are going to be at you from the first minute.

Hostile atmospheres can make some teams shrink — I know how Stoke used to benefit from a rocking stadium — but if you put Liverpool and Manchester City into environments that are like training exercises, they are going to have no issue keeping the ball.

We have seen since football resumed the remarkable amount of away wins and that trend is going to continue for the foreseeable future.

I look at Sheffield United already, with two defeats at Bramall Lane, and see how much they are missing being backed.

I look at Sheffield United and see how much they are missing being backed from their fans

You saved our summer — any chance you can save autumn and winter, too?

Marc Wheatley, via Twitter

I’m enjoying the golf course at the minute, Marc, and I have been recharging my batteries but I do have to say that if things continue as they are, I might go into hibernation for the next six months. 

Saying that, I have had a lot of queries about when my podcast is returning and I promise we will be back stronger.

If the nation’s mental well-being is dependent on me, I will be there.

I’m enjoying the golf course at the minute and I have been recharging my batteries

Will Sean Dyche get the players he needs before the transfer window closes?

Richie Barker via email

I have heard Sean say countless times what he needs and I really hope the board back him.

I am convinced Burnley will be OK but I should add that it only takes a couple of defeats, a loss of momentum and, suddenly, you are in a relegation battle.

It happened to us at Stoke. We saw a dressing room of good characters be sold and we ended up on a slippery slope. Burnley have already lost men such as Joe Hart, Tom Heaton and Jeff Hendrick, and if James Tarkowski goes to Leicester, that is another big presence taken out.

If Tarkowski goes, Dyche must be given every penny of that to reinvest in his team. He has done an absolutely magnificent job but he needs assistance.

Sean Dyche has said countless times what he needs and I really hope the board back him

How much would you have loved to be in a Liverpool team with Thiago?

Mick Wick via Twitter

Oh, Mick. There is a footballer who looks like he could play the game in his slippers. I watched that cameo at Chelsea last week and you could tell immediately that Thiago had blown people away in his first training session, as everybody wanted to give him the ball.

Some new signings come in and you know immediately they are a level up. I remember Xherdan Shaqiri scoring a hat-trick on his first day at Stoke, in a five-a-side match, when he completed it by lobbing Jack Butland from five yards. The lads looked at each other and said, ‘Oh my God!’

There were some similarities I could see in Thiago with Xabi Alonso. It was the way he gathered the ball, how crisply he passed it. Xabi was a wonderful footballer and he came to my mind when I watched Thiago at Stamford Bridge.

I know he gave a penalty away but did you see those ‘no-look’ passes and how he was rolling the ball under his studs?

There was so much to admire in those 45 minutes and he is going to be a big figure through the rest of the season. Until next time, stay safe and well.

There were some similarities I could see in Thiago Alcantara (right) with Xabi Alonso




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