I QUIT KOP TO SAVE MY ENGLAND DREAMS; PORTSMOUTH FA CUP HOLDERS GET REDS REJECT ON BOARD Crouch Blasts Rafa's Rotation as He Finally Seals Pompey Return
Byline: BY MIKE WALTERS
BEANSTALK Peter Crouch has revealed he went from Rafa Benitez's fall guy at Liverpool to Portsmouth's pounds 11million tall guy to save his England career.
Six years after Pompey flogged him to Aston Villa for pounds 5.5million, Crouch completed his Fratton Park homecoming yesterday at twice the price - admitting Rafa the gaffer's tinkering finally became "too much" for him.
The 6ft 7in England striker's first move on his return to the south coast will be to evict Ghanaian midfielder John Utaka, who still rents the waterfront apartment Crouch kept when he moved to Merseyside in 2005.
Pompey boss Harry Redknapp hopes regular football will give Crouch - who was also wanted by Chelsea until Avram Grant was sacked - a new lease of life as he forges a Little-and-Large double act with fellow England hitman Jermain Defoe.
Crouch, 27, stopped short of accusing Benitez of wrecking his career. But he left nobody in any doubt that he regards rotation as the preserve of wheels and tumble dryers.
He said: "It was a big wrench to leave a big club like Liverpool, but I only started nine Premier League games last season, and that's not enough if you want to play for England - that was a big consideration.
"I did become a bit frustrated at times, when I was doing well and scoring goals but then I still wasn't playing in the next game.
"You have to accept that. At a big club there is going to be chopping and changing unless you are totally indispensable like Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres and Jamie Carragher.
"They know they are going to be picked every week. Everyone else has to fight for their positions.
"But there's a fine line between rotating and playing as much as you would like. Towards the end it became a bit too much.
"There is no bitterness towards the manager at Liverpool - he's obviously got his ideas and I've got mine about playing every week. But I think Harry Redknapp believes in me as a player.
I know he's sold me twice in the past, but at that stage it was probably the right thing to do.
"It wasn't a difficult decision to sign because Portsmouth are moving in the right direction - they have just won the FA Cup, they are building a new stadium. These are exciting times. I'm delighted to be back."
After taking 19 games to break his duck for Liverpool, Crouch subsequently averaged a goal every three games for them. …