As I've tried my hardest to demonstrate around these parts over the past year, I don't really like Peter Crouch. Yeah, he scored some fantastic goals at crucial periods for Tottenham Hotspur, but towards the end of his career at White Hart Lane his game became a little too heavy on the giving away of stupid fouls, miscuing shots and generally not contributing much to build ups and a little too light on goals for my liking.
Having said that, I love everything that Peter Crouch stands for. I'm a big advocate of the old-school 4-4-2 with a high proportion of goals coming from a little guy having the ball tapped down for him by the big strong guy. It worked for Spurs in 2009, unlocking Jermain Defoe's goalscoring potential while also ensuring that Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon's crosses had an outlet. Crouch's height and physicality also allowed him to cue up Rafael Van der Vaart, playing in Defoe's more withdrawn role, enough times to score almost at will at the start of his first season with Spurs. More importantly, it works incredibly well in Europe. Teams from the continent just cannot seem to be able to handle the strength and directness of a classic No. 9.
Moving forward, then, I'm very much of the opinion that Spurs would be best off both in terms of their general style of play and specifically in their hypothetical Champions League campaign next year in finding the new Peter Crouch. With all the emphasis placed on how Bale can tuck in to join attacks and on whether Defoe and Van der Vaart can play together, I feel Spurs have floundered in some respects in disrupting a formula that worked. Equally, however, we'd also need a player who could be as prolific or more than Crouch was at his best -- a more complete target man. Though Emmanuel Adebayor's played the role sufficiently this year, it's clear that we can look beyond him to someone with a better touch and ability to hold up the ball. The prospective candidates are obvious -- Leandro Damiao is perhaps the front runner, having displayed energy, touch, flair, height, strength and finishing ability to burn this season. Similarly, Fernando Llorente was on our radar last summer, and his stock can only have gone up after having a huge hand in deconstructing Manchester United first team last month.
Call me crazy, however, but I think there's every chance Daniel Levy might not be the type to blow tens of millions of pounds on one young player just like that. Not only that, but there are plenty of slightly more left-field choices the club could opt for come the next transfer window. A solid option could be found, for example, in figures such as Olivier Giroud. A striker for Montpellier in Ligue 1, Giroud has probably already begun to hit the peak of his career at age 25. In 65 appearances with the club since 2010, however, Giroud has managed to net 30 times, bagging 18 goals and providing 7 assists this season alone. This form has seen him called up three times by Laurent Blanc already for the national team, and caused his coach to declare that one club is "not big enough" for Giroud. At 6'3", he certainly presents a formidable physical challenge to any centre back. Similarly solid would be Guillaume Hoarau, an extremely prolific striker who has fallen out of favour at nouveau riche PSG and has recently been linked with a move to the Premier League after David Moyes allegedly expressed an interest in him.
If Spurs are willing to take the plunge, there are even a couple of good options floating around the Premier League for Spurs to consider. Considering Harry's current propensity towards giving underrated veterans a last shot, there's no denying that Grant Holt wouldn't be a decent shout for a season as a name on the roster, even if he is careening into the autumn years of his career. Deny it all you want, but for me Tim Cahill will always be good for another season too. Controversially, I've always also rated Nile Ranger as a naturally talented prospect with a terrible attitude towards playing -- if he can be rescued from himself by a man manager like Harry, surely his physicality and energy would be a welcome addition to the squad.
It's thus clear that Spurs have a wealth of non-spotlight options for target men for next season. To take Europe by the jaffers like we did two years ago, we need physical, unconventional options who provide us with something a bit different. But is it a really credible approach to go looking for the new Peter Crouch when ditching him at the start of the season was meant to be a mark of progress for us? I leave it to you to decide that.