Lou Macari: Spending big money reaps rewards in the millionaire surroundings of Premier League
HAS Peter Crouch been a good signing for Stoke City?
That seems to be the question doing the rounds after chairman Peter Coates was quoted in a recent interview over the weekend.
If I've read him right, Peter seemed to be saying it wasn't a great deal financially when Stoke signed Crouch for £10m from Tottenham 18 months ago.
And he was right. If Stoke are going to sign an England international from a top London outfit, they will always have to break a few club records.
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But it was significant that Peter also said in the interview that he sanctioned the deal because he was prepared to support his manager.
I wonder just how many club owners would show the same faith in their manager's judgement in this day and age of non-footballing people making the big footballing decisions?
Peter knew only too well that they would get relatively little money back on Crouch if and when they came to sell him.
But he also knew that if his manager was right, it wasn't money down the drain.
Tony Pulis would have told his chairman that Crouch was the kind of player who would enhance his team and help ensure they remained in the Premier League over the next few years.
And in this day and age, if a player keeps you in the Premier League with all its vast income, then he more than repays his transfer fee and wages.
Signing a player like Crouch would also do no harm when it comes to raising Stoke's profile in the wider world.
He's also a good character, by all accounts, so would probably be a big asset behind the scenes as well.
Throw in the fact that Crouch was player-of-the-year in his first season at the Britannia and you have to say the signing certainly started off well.
OK, he has been in and out of the side a bit this season, but you still go back to measuring such signings on whether they have helped keep you in the Premier League.
And barring a real disaster now, Stoke have all but secured themselves at least another season in the lucrative world of the Premier League.
Of course, the transfer deadline-day which has just passed was a totally different affair to the one that brought Crouch into the club 18 months earlier.
This time we saw Stoke spending less money on the potential of Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland and American international Brek Shea.
Stoke will certainly bank on a big profit on the £3m or so they have spent on Butland if he becomes the goalkeeper everybody seems to think he will become.
So there we have what could be good investments on transfer fees.
Stoke may make little (if any) money back on Crouch in the transfer market, but his value should be measured in the number of seasons Stoke play in the Premier League while he's at the club.
As a manager, it can sometimes be a doubled-edged sword when a sub starts banging in the goals.
Last week it was Reading's Brian McDermott having to fend off inquiries about why goalscoring substitute Adam Le Fondre wasn't starting matches.
But after Stoke's win over Reading on Saturday, it was Tony Pulis having to explain why he sees Cameron Jerome as a sub, not a starter, after his latest goal for the club.
It can be a nightmare for managers because they can only pick 11 starters and they can see why they want to start with some players and not others.
But they also know the fans will be on their back to demand Jerome begins a match because he's earned his chance.
You also have the player in question knocking on your door and wanting to know why he's still stuck on the bench.
We've all had that as managers, but you don't mind that so much because at least it shows the player has a bit of desire and aggression.
I'd be far more worried if the player was still grabbing the proverbial number 12 shirt before you'd chucked it to him.
I'M going to let my heart rule my head where the Champions League is concerned because both Celtic and Manchester United have really tough tasks ahead of them.
Celtic must get a lead from tonight's home leg against Juventus, otherwise I really do fear it ending in tears in Turin in the second leg.
And in a similar vein, I believe United mustn't get a heavy beating in the Bernebau against Real Madrid tomorrow night.
That will given them a fighting chance come the second leg on home turf against Ronaldo and Co. So my heart says Celtic and United will get through, while my head is still making up its mind on that one!