Ask Crouchie! Sportsmail’s Peter Crouch answers YOUR questions … including fan protests


Another remarkable weekend in a season unlike any other, Peter Crouch has questioned title wins, empty stadiums and calls in England.

But Old Trafford is the only place to start Sportsmail‘regular columnist – but not for football reasons …

Have you ever been in a situation where a match was called off so late?

Jim Kelly via email

The only cases I remember, Jim, were based on inclement weather and field inspections. I have never seen anything like this, but I have to say that I find it quite difficult to understand that the police and the authorities did not realize that such a thing was going to happen.

Ask yourself: Did stewards ever try to stop the protesters? Of course they weren’t! Stewards are fans of the club and many will think the same of the Glazers as those who managed to get into Old Trafford.

They have voiced their grievances, showing that the friction sparked by the European Super League plans is not a story that will be swept under the rug. But will it bother the Glazers? I seriously doubt it.

One thing we should never lose sight of is that these people – the Glazers, John Henry, Stan Kroenke – have no affiliation with the clubs that bought them. They will never understand the deep feeling their proposals have caused.

Fans stormed Manchester United’s stadium, delaying their match against Liverpool

Will this season go down as one of Pep Guardiola’s best?

Steve Botts via Twitter

In a season Steve, where form has gone out the window and injuries caught up with so many teams, the consistency that Manchester City has shown is astonishing. I have a new level of admiration for Guardiola for the way he built a unit to run with this title.

It’s unbelievable. Yes, he has been able to rotate – something his rivals have been unable to do – but he has overseen an incredible turnaround. City was nearly 20 points behind Liverpool last year, so the transformation, without using a recognized striker, was off the map.

The City team would have felt sorry for themselves last summer. The way they left the Champions League, lost an FA Cup semi-final and then finished a distance behind Liverpool could have broken some players, but Guardiola has spectacularly revived them.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola (left) has given his squad a great new lease of life this season

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola (left) has given his squad a great new lease of life this season

Do you understand why Liverpool and Everton’s home form is so bad?

Klink 9 via Twitter

Actually, I can, Latch. I was lucky enough to play at Anfield for three years and have been to Goodison Park numerous times. The results you have seen since New Year show just how important fans are to these particular clubs.

People might laugh at that comment, but trust me, if you’re in Anfield or Goodison and there’s a crowd you just can’t be below par. You can’t play your best every time, but every time you go to the sidelines you see how much it matters to those in the stands.

You can’t let things stray when you know there will be a crowd on your back. But in an empty stadium, it is easy to drift away. It’s like being on a training ground, and I’ve seen some players behave in a way at the end of the matches that they wouldn’t if fans were around.

How can players hug and stand to chat after dropping points games? It gives the impression that those negative results don’t hurt them as much as those who watch TV at home.

It doesn’t look good. It’s something they need to take on board.

Will Ollie Watkins make the England squad?

Jay Griffman via Twitter

I have a lot of friends who are Brentford supporters, Jay. They told me when Watkins was at their club, and I knew when Aston Villa signed him that a player with great potential was coming. I am delighted to see that he has gotten better as the season goes on.

I’m also very happy that Gareth Southgate has the potential to pick 26 players as that opens up the possibility for him to name a few wildcards – and Watkins won’t have hurt himself at all with his goal and performance at Goodison Park. . .

We shouldn’t forget that Villa’s team has been set up around him, but I love his energy and his confidence keeps getting better. I would like to see him get his rewards. He had a taste of the final round of internationals and I think he would fit into the tournament.

Crouch says Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins (left) has the confidence and energy to shine for England

How would you like to lift a trophy in an empty stadium?

Luke Elliott via email

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, Luke. It was on my mind last year when Liverpool won their first title after 30 years of waiting and it was also last week when Manchester City won the League Cup at Wembley.

I know there were a few thousand fans in the stadium, but it’s not the same. You’re talking about trophy lifting, but think about this: Imagine all the players who made their debut in England in the last 12 months – or scored their first goals for their country – and were unable to make their to look up and see family?

When Liverpool won the FA Cup in 2006, I have an excellent memory of it when I saw my father at the final whistle and smiled at him. We looked at each other and realized that getting that trophy was all we’d been working on for a lifetime.

It’s always mentioned about the money football players make, but, strip it all away, all we do is have a moment in a packed stadium when there is a trophy and have a noisy party. None of what we see feels like football at the moment.

The former Liverpool forward also had his thoughts on lifting a trophy in a stadium with no supporters

The former Liverpool forward also had his thoughts on lifting a trophy in a stadium with no supporters

Do Arsenal have any chance of coming back against Villarreal in the Europa League?

Chris Wezzo via email

I honestly don’t know where I stand with Arsenal, Chris. On the one hand, I look and I see a club where many things are wrong. On the other hand, I see a team that has the ability to win when they really need one.

Villarreal had plenty of chances to kill the first leg, but if Arsenal were Arsenal, they could eventually get away with it. Yesterday’s win over Newcastle will have given them some confidence and they have forwards who can score at any moment. But would I put money on it? No chance.

Arsenal could beat Villarreal, but Mikel Arteta's side are too inconsistent to fully trust

Arsenal could beat Villarreal, but Mikel Arteta’s side are too inconsistent to fully trust

Would Rafa Benitez be a good fit for Tottenham?

Graham Newton via email

I couldn’t admire Rafa more than I, Graham. The guy is soccer obsessive and when I see pictures of him walking his dogs I expect them to be in formation! His attention to detail is exemplary and he devotes every second of every day to the game.

I will never forget the look on his face when he asked Jermaine Pennant one day at Melwood, Liverpool’s old training ground, if he had seen a Champions League quarter-final last night. Jermaine, bless him, had no interest in watching football and replied, “No – who was playing?”

Rafa was absolutely dumbfounded. The moment those two specific worlds collided with each other will stay with me forever! In Tottenham’s terms, it wouldn’t be the worst scream. He has proven himself at the highest level, his resume is fantastic – there are certainly worse candidates. Stay safe and healthy until next time.

Former Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has a fantastic resume and would be a great fit for Tottenham

Former Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has a fantastic resume and would be a great fit for Tottenham

Peter has first-hand experience of Benitez's managerial powers from their time at Liverpool

Peter has first-hand experience of Benitez’s managerial powers from their time at Liverpool