The Curious Case Of Andy Carroll

By on March 15, 2011

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If you were told at the start of Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool tenure that the 2010/2011 season would see the arrival of a £35 million target man, you may well have found yourself sectioned for not foreseeing Hodgon’s fingerprints all over this particular crime scene. Now the calm has arrived after the storm that was this January’s transfer deadline day, the excitement at the signing of Andy Carroll has now been joined with intrigue and curiosity as to how and why this ‘colossus’ will be successful in a red shirt. At this early stage in his Liverpool career, it is difficult to predict the path his Anfield future will follow.

It has been over a month since he signed, and I certainly didn’t foresee the repetition of the words ‘thirty-five million’ in my mind to continue for this long; a staggering sum of money for an inexperienced striker with less than a season’s worth of Premiership games under his belt. Those who have worked closely with him however, are convinced the price tag isn’t unreasonable and appear confident he will live up to the huge potential he undoubtedly has to offer. If he does live up to that potential, at the age of twenty-two, with possibly ten years ahead of him, breaking the British transfer record could look like another astute Dalglish purchase. I must say, if this was a Hodgson buy, I would be far more sceptical than I already am. Fortunately for everyone with Liverpool’s best interests at heart, this wasn’t a Hodgson buy. If it was, it could easily have been Carlton Cole’s debut The Kop have been eagerly anticipating.

But the simple fact that Carroll was bought by Dalglish is the most difficult aspect to comprehend. It wasn’t the sheer amount of money that came as a shock. Nor the pleasant surprise of Liverpool once again investing money in the transfer market. Neither do questions of Carroll’s ability or potential fill me with pessimism. The most pressing issue at hand, however, could be his unsuitability to Liverpool. Or perhaps more accurately, Dalglish’s Liverpool.

Liverpool’s philosophy transformed itself overnight with the appointment of Kenny Dalglish, with one of the most notable alterations taking place on the pitch; a short, sharp passing game has replaced the long ball approach Hodgson adopted. An approach most would agree would suit the power, strength and heading ability Liverpool’s number nine possesses, and not the quick, skilful, intelligent ability of someone like Luis Suarez, for instance. This is not to say the ‘total football’ ideology Dalglish firmly believes in can not be adhered to with the presence of an ‘old-fashioned’ centre forward, though a tendency to punt long at the sight of Carroll’s pony-tail may well interfere with the footballing ideology Dalglish is trying to re-impose upon Liverpool.

It is without doubt a welcome problem to mull over for Liverpool fans, though a number of questions remain unanswered with regards to his signing. As Rory Smith succinctly pointed out recently, the inclusion of out-and-out wingers is an absolute necessity if Carroll is to succeed at Anfield. Something Liverpool have lacked for years. Kuyt, Maxi, Cole, and Miereles are currently occupying the wide positions, and as capable as these players are, getting in behind full-backs isn’t their forte; players that do have that ability would manage to maintain the aesthetic nature of Dalglish’s vision for this side. Without that, a fear of the easy punt up to the big man may consume fans keen on witnessing exciting football. There aren’t many defenders’ that will thrive on the chance to square up against Carroll, and his presence in the squad unquestionably adds another dimension/option to Liverpool’s game. At £35 million, however, Carroll is unlikely to be a useful squad player, but the focal point of Liverpool’s re-building process. Given Liverpool’s weakness in depth, the ‘easy’ option may be used by certain lesser players, similar to the way many felt Crouch’s inclusion in Liverpool teams encouraged the long ball. The class in the first eleven at Dalglish’s disposal suggests this approach won’t be performed excessively, and along with the manager’s insistence on keeping the ball on the ground and the arrival of Luis Suarez Liverpool shouldn’t fall in to the long ball trap too easily.

But the question still remains as to how Carroll will be incorporated. No doubt we will see Dalglish experiment during the remainder of the season. And after some summer investment, there is little doubt Dalglish will quash any fears Liverpool fans have of Carroll’s involvement.

Submitted by Some Team Up North

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11 Comments

  1. barnes

    March 15, 2011 at 9:33 am

    unfortunatlye with carragher and skrtle at the back, long ball tactics will always be there.

  2. magnumopus

    March 15, 2011 at 9:47 am

    I disagree… the temptation for long balls will be there but Kenny will not let that style of play dominate, but, it will have a place to play in our offense. Midfield talent is weak right now and with new recruits the ball should not have to be hoofed up the pitch each game but we do need better control and less fear of losing the ball in midfield. A new and better attitude is needed and kenny must provide the players to do the job the way we want. Pass and move your ass!

  3. Gazzaman

    March 15, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I think AC will give a huge added dimension to our play. Andy Carroll, will look to bring the ball down… and bring the midfield line closer… Our midfield will soon learn that the big man will win most of the high balls, and it will be less a gamble of running beyond. Opposition will hate playing against the big man and he will draw a lot of fouls. We will see a number of goals flying in from corners, upto now we have relied on our defenders to try nod corners in. Its great to have a specialist. YNWA

  4. bosco

    March 15, 2011 at 10:46 am

    i cn’t wait 2see carrol n suares partner 2gether.defender b aware d storm is coming dawn

  5. charlie

    March 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Does the fact we are a pass and move team mean every player we buy must be of the same ilk? Should we rule out anyone strong or good in the air because of this philosophy? NO, we should not be a one dimensional team, no matter whether that dimension is pass and move or the long ball, we must be able to be flexible enough to employ both of these philosophies into our play, only then can we be a balanced side.

    Arsenal are a side that employ the pass and move philosophy but they have become so obsessed by it that they only ever sign one type of player, they were strongest when the likes of Sol Campbell, Patrick Viera and Dennis Bergkamp were playing – these players gave them balance. We must have the appropriate mix of hard-workers, flair players, strong players and creative players. This is what gives you options as there are always situations in games that will require each of these abilities.

    This is also why Suarez and Carroll will complement eachother so well. Just like for England you would never pair Heskey and Crouch together and nor would you partner Owen and Defoe together.

  6. Scoucer at heart

    March 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Therein lies the brilliance of Kenny Dalglish (not to underestimate the involvement of Damien Comolli in this). In theory Carroll and Suarez should complement each other brilliantly and thats went out and got them. Suarez does his best work with the ball at his feet and could draw defenders out of position for Carroll to take advantage of and put the ball in the back of the net – much like Dirk Kuyt did against ManUre, only Carroll is better! Carroll on the other hand has the presence, composure and ability to keep the ball when in front of goal and set up Suarez. They are a match made in Anfield heaven!

  7. Honourary Scoucer

    March 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Watch the LFC under-18s. Pass and move football with the long diagonal when the opportunity arises. Michael Ngoo fits in perfectly in that team, much like Andy Carroll will fit in perfectly in the 1st team.

  8. Sliime

    March 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    i think a lot of people forgot the fact that this is not andy’s first season in the premier league…he played in the epl in 2 previous seasons before they got relegated, so it’s harsh to say that he doesn’t have enough experience. You could say that he has more epl experience than suarez, dzeko, etc. you get my point

  9. Roubx

    March 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I think Carroll is a great buy and disagree that it may not suit the more pass-and-move football Dalglish is trying to put in place. In addition to being very good with his left foot (remember that goal he scored against us?), he has good ball control and defenders seem to struggle against him. He also has a very good eye for a pass which can only improve with experience.

    Wrt the formation KK might be trying to play with AC in the team, my guess is that Kelly and Johnson will be used as (very) attacking full backs (more like wingers), able to cross the ball to Carroll who will be able to either try the shot/header or head back to Meireles/Gerrard/Suarez/Kuyt.

    This would allow Lucas and Gerrard to rule the middle (could compete with the best two CMs in the premiership IMO) and Gerrard can easily push up to join Meireles against easy opposition.

    At the back, three defenders offer adequate cover (even if MK or GJ are playing further up). Agger’s being quite often out of action, this would allow for gradual introduction of young players(Wilson, Kelly..) and we have further cover with the big Greek.

    Meireles on the other side will be thriving in this role, with three front players to past the ball to and great link up play possible with Suarez (Aquiliani could be great backup if he came back). Gerrard as mentionned can push forward to support the attack when needed. This role suits him best as he is still able to dictate the tempo and make his amazing diagonals while not having to race back and forth (his legs seem slightly heavier this season…).

    Can’t wait to see that team out there!

    Reina
    Carragher – Skrtel – Agger
    Kelly Gerrard Lucas Johnson
    Meireles
    Kuyt Suarez
    Carroll

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