By Justin Fitzgerald
Looking back at the Manchester City loss, Liverpool fans are left wondering what can be done to get Andy Carroll firing and eventually living up to his hefty £35m price tag. Liverpool’s decision not to appeal the 8 game ban of Luis Suarez has seen the big Geordie enjoy a recent run of games, however he has yet to build on four goals in 23 appearances. It doesn’t take a football savant to recognize that Suarez and Carroll are two vastly different players each representing diverse skill sets as well as weaknesses, and while one has found his stride and had an immediate impact, the other seeks to regain his prowess in front of the net.
The burden of solving the enigma that is Carroll’s scoring drought is certainly not his alone to bear. I don’t buy the excuse that he doesn’t fit into the current pass and move style of play under Dalglish. The fact remains that Liverpool are simply not playing to his strengths, and the quality and quantity of the service that he’s provided is sadly not the same as it was during his time at Newcastle. Somehow Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan were able to serve up more accurate balls into the box than any of Liverpool’s midfielders currently are. Perhaps someone should suggest that Carroll move in with Charlie Adam as he did previously with Kevin Nolan per his bail conditions at the time. It goes without saying that Liverpool’s No. 9 would have less opportunities to get a black eye while reading bed time stories to Charlie’s kid.
In all seriousness, Liverpool fans will remember the last time Andy was at his devastating best, unfortunately he was wearing the Newcastle United black and white en-route to a brace against the Reds in a 3-1 win last season at St James Park.
Below are a two chalkboards that illustrate facets of Carroll’s game from that very match, facets that Liverpool has yet to really take advantage of.
This is the first goal that Newcastle scored. A simple set piece in which Joey Barton sends the ball into the box and Andy Carroll heads it back across the goal to Kevin Nolan for a tap in. Simple, and yet something that Liverpool has yet to really take advantage of. Carroll has sent balls back across the net into space on occasion, unfortunately more often than not he’s been alone upfront with no one to run onto the end of them.
Andy Carroll has an absolute hammer for a left foot. Liverpool witnessed this first hand when he sent a screamer into the back of the net from 25 yards out to score his second goal. Here Jose Enrique simply runs off Carroll, creating space for him to turn and have a shot. Liverpool need to play more balls to Andy’s feet, he has a great touch and his holdup play has been good as of late, he simply needs more options up front.
As the old adage goes, “Form is temporary, class is permanent.” Liverpool fans have heard this ad nauseam regarding the form of their skipper Steven Gerrard this season, though a string of 30 minute appearances including a goal against Newcastle last week suggest his form is on the mend. This couldn’t be better news for Andy Carroll as the quality of the passes he’s received from Gerrard are unquestionably a class above and even “surgical” in nature when compared with those from anyone else in a red shirt. That being said King Kenny has made it clear that he will not rush his No. 8 back too soon and that, “It would be wrong of us to be negligent and throw him in and undo all the good work he has done so far.” Look for Liverpool to be aggressive in the January transfer window, perhaps adding a winger or another striker up front to work with Carroll.
At the end of the day it’s important to keep things in perspective. Andy Carroll is 22 years old and in his first full season he’s had 11 starts, searching for his identity at a club that’s seen 3 ownership changes and 3 different managers over the past 5 years. What Carroll needs is continuity and consistency to regain his Tynside form and prove in the end that he was worth every penny.