Peter Crouch has revealed his struggles playing under former manager Rafael Benitez during his three-year spell at Liverpool.
The 37-year-old striker is well-loved by fans for his memorable stint at Anfield – where, after a slow start, he scored 42 goals in three seasons and helped the team to the 2007 Champions League final.
A £7million signing from relegated Southampton in the summer of 2005, the 6 ft 7 in frontman went four months without a goal in a Reds shirt before finally breaking his duck with a brace against Wigan.
He enjoyed arguably the best form of his career with Liverpool, winning the FA Cup in his first season and ending the following campaign as the club’s top scorer, with his goals helping the Reds to their second Champions League final in three years – although this time there was no fairytale ending as they lost 2-1 to AC Milan.
But Crouch has revealed it was not all rosy for him on Merseyside.
Rafa Benitez was a popular figure at the club after that miracle 2005 Champions League success, but a number of transfer decisions – selling Crouch to Portsmouth being one of them – and a drop from being Premier League runners-up one year to finishing seventh in the next saw the manager lose favour with fans and eventually with the club, and he was sacked in 2010.
Crouch has no ill feelings towards his former boss, and praised Benitez for giving him a chance to play at the top level.
But the striker revealed to talkSPORT he found it tough playing under the Spaniard at times and also questioned the coach’s tactical style, which he felt sometimes hampered the creativeness of one of the best Liverpool sides in recent memory.
Speaking on the Weekend Sports Breakfast, the striker said: “I think anyone who played for Rafa at Liverpool at that time would all say the same thing…
“He was very stand-offish, he never gave you praise and when you were doing well he would always pick on something you did wrong.
“He was fantastic and he gave me my chance at one of the best clubs in the world.
“I‘ve got loads to thank him for and I actually think he’s obviously a very, very good manager, as he’s proving again now.
“But there were times when I think, personally, he did over-complicate things.
“I felt that sometimes at home against lesser teams we were trying to do different things…
“I was like, ‘hang on a minute, we’ve got Alonso, Mascherano and Gerrard in midfield, let’s just go out and beat these teams! We don’t need two holding midfielders, we don’t need to be defensive, let’s just go out and beat them!’
“Sometimes there was a bit of over-thinking, but that was just Rafa and that’s what he’s about.”