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    Peter Crouch Q&A: Why Man City can’t blame poor form on Pep Guardiola’s contract

    Ask Crouchie! Our resident columnist is back to answer YOUR questions… on why Man City can’t blame poor form on Pep Guardiola’s contract uncertainty, how James Milner will make a really top manager… and Man United’s absolute shocker of a kit!

    • Not one player at Man City will be thinking about Pep Guardiola’s contract 
    • Jurgen Klopp said Jordan Henderson could become a manager – and I agree
    • I’d expect that Michail Antonio is still buzzing about his overhead kick 
    • Manchester United’s zebra kit, which they wore at PSG, is a fashion disaster

    Unusual transfers, acrobatic goals and a walk on the wild side with fashion come under Peter Crouch‘s gaze this week.

    But to start things off, Sportsmail‘s columnist offers his expert analysis on the situation at the Etihad Stadium…

    Peter Crouch answers more of your questions as part of a weekly series here for Sportsmail

    What do you think is the issue with Manchester City – something doesn’t seem right about them?

    Liam Wraith via Twitter

    I’m not sure I’d agree with that, Liam. The first thing I’d say about Saturday’s game is that West Ham have made massive improvements. I said in my first column of the season they were going to be the ‘rollercoaster club’ and they have hit the part of the track that rises in recent weeks.

    The improvement they have shown is mirrored around the league. You might say this is a cliche but there really won’t be any easy games this season — everyone is capable of taking points from the top sides. Last season West Ham v Man City was a foregone conclusion, this season it absolutely isn’t.

    I’ve heard it said that Pep Guardiola’s contract, which expires at the end of the season, will be preying on minds but let me tell you this: not one player in the dressing room will be thinking about it. I worked for all sorts of managers and the status of their deal never bothered me once.

    City were not brilliant on Saturday but anyone wishing to dismiss them as title-challengers are taking an almighty gamble. They will be right in the mix come the end of the season. They have too much quality not to be in the thick of it.

    Not one player at Manchester City will be thinking about Pep Guardiola's contract situation

    Not one player at Manchester City will be thinking about Pep Guardiola’s contract situation

    Do you think traditional lower-half teams are feeling free to attack due to having no crowd pressure?

    Luke Malcom via Twitter

    One thing I’ve noticed, Luke, is the teams who usually have hostile home supporters are doing well. Aston Villa and Everton have passionate fanbases but when things are not going according to plan, they can be unforgiving. Some players can’t handle that intensity.

    There is very little emotion inside stadiums now — they can feel so sterile when you are inside them — and that is going to help players of certain character and teams who can lose their way in pressured moments.

    If their results continue to improve it’s going to be a really interesting season.

    Everton have a  passionate fanbase but when things are not going well they can be unforgiving

    Everton have a  passionate fanbase but when things are not going well they can be unforgiving

    Why can’t Mike Riley come out and explain errors if his referees aren’t allowed to?

    Noel Richardson via Twitter

    You’re one of several people who have contacted me about VAR, Noel. I’m going to make a wish right here and say that I hope I can get to the end of 2020 without needing to talk about it again but I think I’ve got more chance of making the next England squad (Gareth, I know you will be reading this. My number hasn’t changed).

    It would be nice if the really big decisions were explained, the ones that have got everyone so frustrated. Transparency would make it much easier for people to accept what had happened rather than the current silence which suggests referees are above getting into discussions.

    I used to find the best referees were the ones with whom you could engage and have a conversation. If they told why they had made a particular call you could move on. Others would just wave you away and that simply increased frustrations.

    What I can say with certainty, however, is I don’t know what is offside any more and I don’t know what determines a penalty any more.

    Sadly, we are going to be faced with these controversies — and the lack of explanation that follows — every week.

    I've got more chance of making Gareth Southgate's England squad than not talking about VAR again before the end of 2020

    I’ve got more chance of making Gareth Southgate’s England squad than not talking about VAR again before the end of 2020

    Are there any current players who you think will go on to make top managers?

    Terry Pipe via Twitter

    During my career, Terry, it was the lads who were most vocal who you could see making the step into management. Steven Gerrard, Scott Parker and Frank Lampard have all made that move and have all made their mark. 

    I noticed Jurgen Klopp said a couple of weeks ago that he thought Jordan Henderson could become a manager one day and I wouldn’t disagree with that. I’d also put James Milner’s name forward. 

    I think he’s got it in him to be a really top coach.

    I'd put James Milner's name forward as a current player who will make an excellent coach

    I’d put James Milner’s name forward as a current player who will make an excellent coach

    Marks out of 10 for Michail Antonio’s overhead kick… have you been giving him lessons?

    Hammer Dan via email

    Oh it’s a solid eight or nine, Dan. It’s going to be a contender for goal of the season and I’d expect that Michail was still buzzing about it, having watched the replays.

    Trust me, there is no better feeling than when you attempt an overhead kick and it comes off. The best I scored was for Liverpool, in front of the Kop, against Galatasaray in the Champions League but there were others.

    I still enjoy seeing another at the Kop end against Bolton, and I got a belter — even if I do say so myself — for Portsmouth against Stoke. Those goals were the result of years of practice. When I was a kid, it was a skill I worked on with one of my mates.

    I'd expect Michail Antonio (second right) will still be buzzing about his overhead kick

    I’d expect Michail Antonio (second right) will still be buzzing about his overhead kick

    He would run down the right wing and dink balls up in the air and I would try over and over again to make the perfect connection.

    If it doesn’t come off, nobody will say anything as nobody expects you to score from that position.

    But when you catch it flush and it flies in… oh my days.

    You’re a fashionable man. Do you like the Manchester United zebra kit? Or would you prefer a kit with a different animal print?

    Jonny Hot Dog via email

    I’m more a tiger print man, Jonny. I think that’s my look. What I would say, however, is the kit United wore against Paris Saint-Germain has never been — nor will it ever be — a Manchester United kit. It’s an absolute shocker, isn’t it?

    I often wonder who comes up with these ideas and thinks that it will look good.

    What’s wrong with plain white and black, like a Manchester United away kit should be? You won’t go wrong if you keep it old school. If you’re taking fashion design from the jungle it’s not a recipe for success.

    The zebra kit worn by Marcus Rashford and Man United at PSG is an absolute shocker for me

    The zebra kit worn by Marcus Rashford and Man United at PSG is an absolute shocker for me

    When you played with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting at Stoke, did you expect his next two clubs to be PSG and Bayern Munich?

    Paul Jones via email

    We both scored five goals in 2017-18, Paul. Maybe I undersold myself and retired too early. What I would say, in fairness to Eric, is that he had so much talent. You could see in training he was a player but it just didn’t happen as it should have done for him on a matchday.

    It was probably fitting that he ended up in Paris after Stoke. When he was around, the dressing room resembled Paris Fashion Week. He used to wear some clobber that, really, you needed to have some confidence to pull off.

    He had a pair of jeans that were draped with a set of oversized keys and chains. He had trench coats that went all the way to the floor — nothing was off limits.

    But Eric was a good lad and he’s obviously got a fantastic agent who has got him some fantastic opportunities. Good luck to him.

    Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has got a great agent who has got him a move to Bayern Munich

    Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has got a great agent who has got him a move to Bayern Munich

    Name the best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and striker outside the Big Six

    Curt YNWA via Twitter

    I assume, Curt, you are talking about Liverpool, the Manchester clubs, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal rather than last season’s top six. If that is the case, you have made things a little bit easier for me.

    My goalkeeper would be Nick Pope, an old team-mate from Burnley. I’ve worked with him in training and, believe me, he is excellent. 

    I’m picking Leicester’s Jonny Evans as the defender and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish for the midfielder.

    Jamie Vardy  looks like he will have an outstanding chance of winning the Golden Boot again

    Jamie Vardy  looks like he will have an outstanding chance of winning the Golden Boot again

    Last but not least is Jamie Vardy as the striker, who looks like he will have an outstanding chance of winning the Golden Boot again.

    When you see the quality outside the Big Six you can understand why the league will be so competitive.

    As always, until we speak again, stay safe.



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