Redknapp maintains faith with odd man out Crouch

Tottenham Hotspur 1 Everton 1
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The Independent Football

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp has a very good reason for liking Peter Crouch – he means Spurs don't always have to play "perfect".

One point for Tottenham could have been three had Crouch converted a straightforward chance late in the first half. Later, the home fans were clamouring for Roman Pavlyuchenko but when the Russian came on it was to replace Aaron Lennon and play out wide, where part of his job was to play balls in the air to the beanpole striker.

Crouch is developing a promising understanding with Tottenham's new darling Rafael van der Vaart. The England man set up his Dutch colleague for Spurs' equaliser on Saturday, thanks to a howler from Everton keeper Tim Howard, who completely missed a cross to the far post where Crouch knocked the ball square to Van der Vaart for the closest of close-range finishes.

Van der Vaart's equaliser after 20 minutes, to cancel out Leighton Baines' exquisite free-kick, was the first goal conceded by Everton for 336 minutes. It is putting the ball in the other goal that has proved more difficult in a familiarly slow start to the season for the Merseysiders.

Crouch has yet to score in the Premier League this season but Redknapp is not about to lose faith. At international level, Crouch only gets a game when the England manager, Fabio Capello, has run out of options but he has a club manager who loves him. Redknapp knows Crouch is very much the odd man out in this Tottenham side, a target man surrounded by ball-players, but Harry loves him for that.

Redknapp claims the former Liverpool and Portsmouth striker is a key player simply because he gives Tottenham a way out.

"You take Crouchie out of there and you've got to play perfect football to break them down," Redknapp said.

"When teams have got numbers in there it's very difficult. You can drop the ball into him. You take him out and you've really go to play through teams. He gives you a different option, Crouchie."

The Spurs midfielder Luka Modric also acknowledged that it is handy to be able to play a more direct style and pop the ball up toward Crouch. "Sometimes we can't play the ball on the floor and we just give the ball to Crouch," Modric said. "He can flick the ball over to Rafa or someone else and it's a good relationship between those two. Peter gives us another option on the pitch."

Tottenham Hotspur (4-5-1) Gomes; Hutton, Bale, Kaboul, Gallas; Assou-Ekotto, Lennon (Pavlyuchenko, 69), Van der Vaart, Palacios (Sandro, 46), Modric; Crouch. Substitutes not used Cudicini (gk), Bassong, Jenas, Kranjcar, Keane.

Booked: Palacios, Van der Vaart, Sandro

Everton (4-5-1) Howard; Coleman (Beckford, 84), Jagielka, Distin, Neville; Bilyaletdinov, Heitinga (Hibbert, 78), Pienaar, Baines, Aiyegbeni (Saha, 62); Cahill. Substitutes not used Mucha (gk), Gueye, Duffy, Baxter.

Booked Coleman.

Possession Tottenham 51%, Everton 49%.

Attempts on target Tottenham 8, Everton 3.

Referee M Jones (Chester). Attendance: 35,967.

Man of the match Jagielka. Match rating: 7/10.