Liverpool TOPIC OF THE WEEK – Andy Carroll

12/5/2011 – Email exchanges between three LFC Boston Fans that have nothing better to do with their time. 

This weeks “Topic of the Week” is going to focus on Andy Carroll. Since there seems to a wide range of opinions on the striker – his price tag, his style of play, his attitude – I didn’t want to limit the discussion by boxing us into a corner.  There is much debate on his potential, whether he can truly play with Suarez, and whether he will ever be a Liverpool legend. Please feel free to provide commentary on any aspect of this controversial figure.

Jimmy K: In my opinion, when it comes to Andy Carroll, people must keep two things in mind: 1) He is still very young 2) Luis Suarez is stealing his thunder.  As Kenny Dalglish has said over and over again, Liverpool signed Andy Carroll to a 5 year contract – not a one or two game contract. He is only 21 years old and is still improving his game. His young age is so easily forgotten by critics because of his hefty price tag. For 35 million pounds, one would expect immediate results. However, Andy Carroll is an investment, not an immediate solution.

As far as Luis Suarez goes, I don’ think anyone – not even Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish – expected the Uruguayan to have such an immediate and substantial impact. Remember, we were pursuing him when we still had Fernando Torres. I think there was recognition that the Spaniard needed more service and a reliable strike partner. Now that the dynamic has changed, I think the balance of teaching a tall and lumbering forward like Andy Carroll to work with a crafty and speedy player like Suarez, and vice versa, is proving difficult and needs time. The loss to Fulham was in deed disappointing. Suarez has gone 7 games now without a goal, and Andy Carroll was absent from the score sheet again. But there were flashes of a successful partnership. The X factor here? Andy Carroll needs to get more comfortable and continue to progress as a player.


AA: Jimmy- in response to your two things to keep in mind: 1) If by “very young” you mean a grown-ass England International, then yes, he’s still wery wery wing and 2) Andy Caroll’s thunder has about as much force as a muffled fart. Luis Suarez is stealing his thunder, Craig Bellamy is stealing his thunder, Charlie Adam is stealing his thunder, Jose Enrique is stealing his thunder. Andy Carroll left his thunder parked in the middle of Blue Hill Ave. with the windows down, keys in the ignition, and a “steal me” sign on the windshield.

As for this “investment in the future” argument: B-O-G-U-S. No team, especially a John Henry owned team, spends 35 mil and doesn’t expect results right away. If we needed a backup striker to start Carling Cup games we never should have let David N’Gog go, he probably would have been cheaper.  What Kenny said was nothing more than a manager protecting his player. I take it with a grain of salt, just like I do his constant assurances that Stevie is progressing fabulously from his latest infection. The fact remains that Caroll has played himself out of the starting 11 just as much as Suarez has played himself in.

I will grant you that there were glimmers of hope during the Fulham game but generally speaking he’s been sloppy off the ball, poor receiving the ball, clumsy with the ball at his feet, and a poor finisher. Not a strong combination.

Lest you think me a total cynic, I am rooting for him to turn this all around. With Suarez racking up FA complaints with greater frequency than Jimmy’s bowel movements, Lord knows we’re gonna need him to step into the void at some point soon!

The future is now, Andy.

Jimmy K: I’ll give you most of those points. However, its very naive to say that the owners purchased Andy Carroll to get immediate results. Thats ludicrous. He was still relatively unproven in the Premier League, and you couldn’t guarantee what you were buying with him. Price tag aside, ownership saw it as we were losing Torres for 50 million, so lets make an investment. He’s English, he’s young, his potential is very obvious, and he adds another dimension of play on the field. But to think that Liverpool bought him expecting 20 goals right off the bat is absurd.  He was injure last Spring, OK, so we’ll give him that. Yes, he is under-performing this year. But he has lost weight, he is still working hard, and his off the ball movement has gotten better. I’m not saying he is worth the money, or that he will still be this god-like striker scoring 50 goals a year, but his potential is promising and with Kenny Dalglish, one of the greatest goal scorers to ever play the game coaching him, I am optimistic.

Pankin:  If I may offer an alternate and possibly riot-inspiring point of view, I have to agree with James in that Andy should be viewed as an investment.  I agree that he was not brought over to be a goal-scoring savior, but rather he was purchased for such a whopping fee because of his potential.

I say he “should” be viewed as an investment because it seems that the current feeling is that he is already a stud and should be scoring goals right and left, which is not the case.  He is an investment.  As James said, he is a player who needs time to develop.  He is young, he is raw, and he has to get used to playing in a new system, in a new position, and with Suarez.  All that being said, he is NOT being given the opportunity to play and develop and ultimately improve that he should be given.  He features in one out of every three or four games, which is not enough on-field experience if the higher ups at Anfield hope for him to become the player we all want him to be.  He should be featuring more, coming on more as a sub in games that he’s left out of the starting XI.
Not to criticize management’s judgement and decision-making, but I think if they’re going to try and get the most out of their 35 million pound purchase, then their approach needs to change.  He needs more opportunities to play and get comfortable, because it is impossible for him to get comfortable coming on for 15 min at a time once every two or three games.  I would not say that he is underperforming based on his price tag, I would say he is under-featuring based on his price tag.
With Gerrard and Lucas out of the line-up, I think this is an excellent time to try and work in Carroll into the starting XI and drop someone like Kuyt or Bellamy back into the midfield.  I would much rather see a 4-4-2 lineup of Suarez and Carroll up front with a midfield of Kuyt, Henderson, Adam, Downing right to left than see Kuyt up top with Suarez and studs-up Spearing in the lineup instead.  Just saying…
AA: Here’s my issue with your otherwise well-written, clearly-reasoned, and terrific-smelling argument. LFC ownership/management has clearly stated that their #1 goal is a top four finish THIS year. With that being the case, they have no choice but to put the 11 players on the field each week that give them the best chance of winning. Nurturing Andy Carroll along by playing him more, giving him a hug when he misses a sitter, kissing his boo boos when he trips over his own feet, is simply not a viable option for a team fighting for a Champions League spot.  Given the stakes our own team has set for itself, we simply can’t afford to play him. Unfortunately, at £35 million we can’t afford to sit him either.
Andy: I agree that a Champions League qualification is vital this year, but who’s to say that Carroll won’t start showing signs of life this season?  Clearly playing him once every two or three games for less than 90 isn’t working, but maybe a more consistent role will be what he needs to find his form.  No one is saying that he’s a two or three year project, I just think he looks so lost and uncomfortable out there and would benefit from a more consistent role and more on-field experience.  I’m not arguing for nurturing, I’m arguing for consistency.  And once he finds his form, he would definitely be one of the eleven who give them the best shot at premiere league and european (and subsequently world) dominance!