Ask Crouchie! Our columnist is back to answer YOUR questions… on why Liverpool can't complain about THAT penalty, the five subs farce, beating Andy Murray at tennis and keeping his moustache!

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  • This week Peter Crouch answers questions on the latest VAR controversy
  • Plus there’s his insight into the physical toil of tight turnarounds between games 
  • He also remembers Diego Maradona after the legend passed away this week
  • And he weighs in on his chances against Andy Murray on the tennis court 

Nothing gets Peter Crouch more riled up than VAR, and he doesn't hold back once again

Nothing gets Peter Crouch more riled up than VAR, and he doesn’t hold back once again

There was yet more VAR controversy on Saturday as a late penalty was given against Liverpool

There was yet more VAR controversy on Saturday as a late penalty was given against Liverpool

Andy Robertson was belatedly punished for kicking the foot of Danny Welbeck in the box

Andy Robertson was belatedly punished for kicking the foot of Danny Welbeck in the box

Jurgen Klopp (left) made his unhappiness clear to the officials after the game at Brighton

Jurgen Klopp (left) made his unhappiness clear to the officials after the game at Brighton

Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring a goal with Diogo Jota - but it was ruled out for offside

Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring a goal with Diogo Jota – but it was ruled out for offside

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is leading the calls for a return to using five subs per game in the Premier League this season

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is leading the calls for a return to using five subs per game in the Premier League this season

Klopp also complained about playing in midweek followed by a 12:30pm start on Saturday

Klopp also complained about playing in midweek followed by a 12:30pm start on Saturday

Our man Peter shows off his spectacular Movember-inspired moustache live on TV

Our man Peter shows off his spectacular Movember-inspired moustache live on TV

Bruno Fernandes gave up taking a penalty so that Marcus Rashford (pictured) could score

Bruno Fernandes gave up taking a penalty so that Marcus Rashford (pictured) could score

Diego Maradona was a childhood hero of Peter's and his goal against England was amazing

Diego Maradona was a childhood hero of Peter’s and his goal against England was amazing

Peter Crouch doesn't think he has a chance of beating Andy Murray on the tennis court just yet

Peter Crouch doesn’t think he has a chance of beating Andy Murray on the tennis court just yet

The two-time Wimbledon champion enjoyed a game with our man for charity recently

The two-time Wimbledon champion enjoyed a game with our man for charity recently

Nothing gets Peter Crouch wound up more than VAR and his mailbox was bursting this weekend with questions on the subject. 

They left Sportsmail’s resident columnist in feisty form but he has also found time to discuss Diego Maradona, unselfishness — and his prospects of a career in tennis.   

Penalty or not?

Matt Dickinson via Twitter

I know you are asking me about Andrew Robertson on Danny Welbeck, Matt. My answer is simple: yes. In 2020, that is what leads to a penalty being given. I really wish it wasn’t — and this isn’t me having a foot in the Liverpool camp — but that is where we are with the game now.

I really do not like what football has become. Let me explain it to you like this — in real time neither I nor Joe Cole, who were working on BT Sport with Jake Humphrey, even thought that a decision needed to be made. Nobody complained on the pitch, nobody that I could see complained on the sidelines.

The match was just carrying on as normal, as it would have done a couple of years ago, until VAR intervened. If you slow something down frame by frame, you are going to see fouls in every clip. As soon as Stuart Attwell went to the pitchside monitor there was only going to be one outcome. 

The game is becoming a joyless, sterile spectacle. Can anything be done?

LFCNHS via Twitter

I wouldn’t ever say football is joyless, LFCNHS. I understand your frustrations after the game on Saturday but I still get plenty of enjoyment watching football and you only had to see Everton play Leeds to get the excitement.

What I do think is getting to people at the minute is the build-up of nine months not being able to do all the things that you would associate with football. The players, believe me, are getting sick and tired of playing in stadiums without any supporters. 

All fans are desperate to resume their traditions of going to the same cafe or the same pub before kick-off then seeing the same people and just enjoying everything that is magical around the game. The novelty of seeing football behind closed doors has worn off. We all want normality back.  

Football is all about celebrating goals — that is gone with VAR

Rags to Riches via Twitter

You’ve got it in one, Rags to Riches. I spoke about Sergio Aguero and the title-deciding goal of 2012 a couple of weeks ago but a couple more incidents have come to my mind. For starters, I think what it would have been like if VAR had been around when I scored for Tottenham at Man City in 2010.

The elation, the spontaneous joy that came flooding out in that moment — it would not have been the same had we been waiting for things to be double-checked. What about Martin Tyler’s commentary from Liverpool v Newcastle in 1996? ‘Collymore closing in!!!’

All those explosions of happiness have been diluted because you never know now if some minor infringement is going to ruin everything. The essence of football is about that split second when you realise the ball is flying in. I played five-a-side a few weeks ago in front of 10 people and scored. It felt the same as when I did it in the Ryman Premier League in front of 500 and scoring for England in front of 70,000. I can’t stand the fact that we now have to wait for a green light. It’s not football. 

Any chance the subs rule will go back to allowing five changes?

Akhil Bhandari via Twitter

Honestly, Akhil, I think this is a fuss about nothing. I do not know why people are getting so worked up about it. Not every team uses three substitutes during a game and I honestly believe that the introduction of five changes would turn matches into a bit of a farce.

It is tough for everyone at the minute but there is an alternative way of looking at things and that is we are lucky to be in an industry that is functioning in a relatively normal way. Other people haven’t been anywhere near so lucky. 

Can you tell us what it is like to play on a Wednesday night, then at 12.30pm on Saturday?

Thomas Kelly via email

It’s hard, Thomas, but nothing is harder than the Christmas period when you go from playing on Boxing Day to December 28 then New Year’s Day with all the travel. You are away from your family when everyone else is together and that is tough.

In terms of what it is like physically, I will frame it like this for you — not one player who plays a midweek game will be 100 per cent fit at the weekend. It is physically impossible and I’ll explain why.

If you play on Wednesday, your session on Thursday will be all about recovery. You go in the pool, get on the exercise bike, do some light jogging just to get your legs moving. Friday, you will walk through set plays and try to rest.

But everyone will be carrying bruising, cramp, feel a kick, have some scarring. I’d go as far as to say that you could never be more than 70 to 80 per cent fit. I’ve actually played some of my best games when I’ve had stiffness and had difficultly walking. The adrenaline of it all gets you through it.

Nice tache, Peter. It reminded me of a very smart Walrus and it suits you. Will you be keeping it?

Adam Daley via Twitter

Thank you, Adam. It’s comments such as these that have made it all worthwhile. I’m pretty sure Abs has had enough of the tache now and I am delighted that we have reached November 30, as the razor and foam can come out before I’m on BT Sport tomorrow night.

On a serious note, it has been good fun. My intention was to have a handlebar by the end of the month and I think I’ve achieved it. I hope Movember has also increased awareness in men about the need to get themselves checked regularly. Don’t avoid it if you think there is a problem.

If you were on a hat-trick, would you ever give up a penalty to let someone else score?

Steve Baldwin via email

Not a chance, Steve. It was a very noble thing of Bruno Fernandes to do in midweek, to give Marcus Rashford the chance to score. But if I was in the same position, my only thought would have been picking my spot and ensuring I converted. I find it strange how you can give up a goal. 

Everyone has been telling stories about how they met Diego Maradona — do you have one too?

Mike Barker via email

I’ve been fortunate to meet plenty of famous people but Maradona was not one of them. I haven’t met Paul Gascoigne, either, and they were both my childhood heroes. I am too young to remember the 1986 World Cup but I’ll tell you everything about Italia 90.

I’ve watched the documentary Diego Maradona again and I cannot recommend it enough if you haven’t seen it. I love Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo but I’ve always been drawn to those whose genius was flawed, such as the original Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Maradona.

My God, what a player Maradona was. Joe Cole and I did a piece about his goal against England in 1986 on Saturday. When you break it down, you cannot believe the speed, the skill and the strength involved. To think if it happened now, it would be ruled out by VAR for a foul on Glenn Hoddle! 

I saw you fancied your chances against Andy Murray when you played tennis against him for Children In Need. Are you thinking of a new career? 

Paul Lippo via email

Well, Paul, when Andy’s hip is finally shot to pieces, I will have no hesitation in getting him on the court and showing him how you play tennis properly.

Until then, I think he might just have the edge. What I will say is we had a fantastic time recording that show.

Andy is a great lad and has been an absolute credit — a national treasure, if you like. I’m really looking forward to seeing him back on court in the new year.

As always, until next time, stay safe and well.



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