It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that Andy Carroll has not had the most comfortable of times since his January 2011 move to Liverpool, although signs of promise have certainly surfaced as the 23-year old settles into his new home. The £35 million man was fortunate enough to have a manager like Kenny Dalglish willing to stick by the man he stumped up such an extortionate fee for. Although with the Scot gone and a new regime in place, Carroll may benefit from such loyalty Dalglish gave him as Brendan Rodgers leads his Anfield revolution.
During a recent press conference, Rodgers was asked about Carroll’s Anfield future amid speculation that the big Geordie had garnered interest from Italian giants AC Milan. Whilst this rumor did not seem to be the most realistic, it did help to bring forward questions as to whether Carroll could really fit into Rodgers new ‘tiki-taka’ Liverpool side and the answers given by the Northern Irishman were far from reassuring for the England international.
Rodgers spoke of how he would wait to assess Carroll, not willing to give a definitive answer as to whether he had a place in his side for the upcoming season. Rodgers was even open to allowing the striker out on loan seeing it as the perfect opportunity to give the player first team football.
The Reds boss has already said that he has spoken to the forward and that he knows exactly where he stands. This could all prove to be Rodgers’ way to get the most out of Carroll; not allowing him to feel comfortable but to remind him that he still has a job to do at the club, this could prove a tactic that reaps huge rewards.
However, it is no secret that Carroll did not respond well to pressure after joining Liverpool although it does seem he has matured as a player and the pressure Rodgers is putting on will not be as frightening as the scrutiny he was subjected to by the British press as he attempted to settle at his new club.
Whilst Carroll is still relatively young, the decision to give him a loan to ensure he gets first team football on a regular basis will not pass and it would most likely spell the end for him at the club. The striker is an England international who also just so happens to be the most expensive British footballer. Therefore this would be far from the ordinary loan opportunity for a youngster to ensure they get used to competitive first team football so to benefit them in the long term.
Where Carroll could go would also be an issue. Liverpool are unlikely to be willing to allow him to move to any Premier League rivals although moving the target man to a club with too small a reputation could be considered insulting and also an admittance that the high fee spent back in 2011 was well off the mark.
Of course it could be considered harsh to place Carroll in such a situation and it certainly wont help his re-found confidence in front of goal. Towards the end of last season, Carroll found impressive form scoring the goal to send Liverpool to the FA Cup final as well as leading an attempted comeback against Chelsea at Wembley. His impressive form managed to put him firmly back in the frame for England’s European Championship squad and whilst at the Euros he managed to find the net linking up with none other than Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.
Carroll’s ability to finally put his strengths to good use may be his downfall as he begins to take the form of a ‘square peg in a round hole’ at Rodgers’ Liverpool.
Whilst at Swansea City, Rodgers gained many plaudits for his footballing philosophy, encouraging fluid short passing which even led player’s such as Leon Britton having a higher passing accuracy percentage than Barcelona’s Xavi. This could be a tactic that means Carroll must look to re-adapt himself as the option of launching a ball into the area for the target man to get on the end of becomes a rarity.
Of course if Carroll is unable to adapt then it is fair that he is moved on elsewhere, Rodgers will want as smooth a transition as possible and keeping hold of players who could prove a deterrent to the footballing philosophy he is looking to install at the club could prove fatal.
However, it may not be that Carroll needs to adapt to such a game. Last season only one of his nine goals for the club was a headed effort and his ability to knock the ball down so to allow the side to keep hold of possession could prove vital in ensuring Liverpool’s ‘tiki-taka’ football proves successful. Luis Suárez’s tendency to drop into the space behind the forward could result in Rodgers opting to play Suárez down the wing allowing him the freedom to cut inside to link up with Carroll, with whom he may still be able to form a lethal partnership with.
Last season for the first time in a long time Barcelona looked vulnerable and devoid of ideas. ‘Tiki-taka’ had failed them to a certain extent as they were unable to secure the league or Champions League trophies. Carroll could prove to be a player that keeps Rodgers’ options open if the club are unable to break sides down as he can be brought on to add a much more physical presence in the Reds frontline.
The issue would be whether Carroll is happy to become an impact player for the club as he looks to join the ranks of Liverpool greats and shake off his title as a ‘transfer flop’. Also with England manager Roy Hodgson looking to build for the future Carroll may fall down in the international pecking order.
Carroll is very much representative of the issues in Liverpool’s past, paying well over the odds for player’s. Something it seems the club are eager to put an end to, this was shown by the club’s reluctance to up their offer for Icelandic Gylfi Sigurðsson.
Rodgers is reported to be targeting a new striker as a necessity this transfer window on the back of a season in which the club scored their lowest tally of league goals in the Premier League era. Italian Fabio Borini is heavily linked with a move to the club as well as Fulham’s Clint Dempsey who can play anywhere across the front line with Rodgers admitting the club are likely to secure at least one ‘exciting’ deal this week.
It is unlikely that Rodgers is looking to bring a forward in as a direct replacement for any players with Dirk Kuyt having recently moved on and Craig Bellamy moving closer to a move to Championship club Cardiff City. The amount of forwards at his disposable looks set to have fallen dramatically and so it could prove to stretch Carroll’s Anfield career longer regardless of whether he shows much promise during pre-season.
Rodgers is sure to know exactly what he needs to do with Liverpool and his decision to still leave the door open to Carroll shows he knows exactly how the forward could be deployed although it seems that it is all very much in Carroll’s hands.
It took him well over a year to finally look settled at Liverpool and there is no doubt that the new club wont be willing to give the English attacker such a vast amount of time to adapt once again. It is a task that could prove whether the forward has truly got the potential to become a true great, although failure could lead many at Liverpool to wonder just what is to be done with Andy Carroll.