Tony Pulis has drawn attention to Crouch’s scoring record for England and in Europe. But the Stoke fans may find that their bargain signing is Cameron Jerome at a third of the price.
The Huddersfield-born striker had a tough time at Birmingham. Left on his own up front, with a huge gap between himself and the midfield, Jerome had little support on the field and, frankly, not much from the touchline.
He found himself playing in a side that too often showed little interest in scoring goals.
It was common to see manager Alex McLeish on the touchline having a go at Jerome for not performing solo miracles. McLeish’s assistants in the dugout behaved in the same way.
The inept Serbian striker Nikola Zigic, similar in size to Crouch but with none of his skill, was more of a liability than a support at St. Andrews.
Rarely did we see McLeish put on a decent support striker, such as Kevin Phillips, except in the dying minutes of each game when Jerome had run himself into the ground.
Cameron Jerome has genuine pace and strength. He can outstrip most Premier defenders, and he’s not afraid to put his head where it hurts.
He’s also a 100% man. He will give Tony Pulis everything he’s got.
Match of the Day pundits highlighted some of Jerome’s misses and made them high profile. But Birmingham fans know well that Jerome can pull off the spectacular, such as his 35-yard piledriver two seasons ago at Anfield —it whistled past Pepe Reina and gave Blues all the points.
Peter Crouch has height and occasional flashes of class on his side. But he has always been slow, and sensible defenders know how to deal with him. His lack of pace will become more serious in his twilight playing years. He’s now 30.
It’s unlikely that Crouch and Jerome will start together.
Kenwyne Jones has more skill than both of them and will surely keep his place as long as he keeps free from injury.
But if they get a start together, a combination of the qualities of Crouch and Jerome could be ideal.
And Jerome is the better bet in the long term.