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The Curious Case Of Andy Carroll

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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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