Andy Carroll - Square Peg In A Round Hole?

One person joked on twitter during the Man City semi-final first leg at the Etihad that should any Liverpool player be caught passing to Carroll, they would be booked for wasting time.

Funny but also a shame. Let’s not forget, this is one of England’s hottest young prospects.

At £35m Andy Carroll represented a remarkable gamble for Liverpool Football Club and so far, you’d have to argue that it is a gamble that hasn’t paid off. But whose fault is that? Can a square peg fit in a round hole? I remember hearing the news on deadline day last year that Carroll was Anfield bound in a deal worth in the region of £35m and being completely gobsmacked for two reasons.

Firstly, the transfer fee was hugely inflated for a player still relatively inexperienced in the top flight and secondly – and perhaps more importantly – that the move was to Liverpool Football Club.

It just didn’t make sense.

Liverpool Football Club have always played a certain brand of football, which is accepted as “The Liverpool Way” and which their fans demand whatever the circumstances. The…erm…wonderfully crafted lyrics “Pass and Move (It’s the Liverpool Grove)” didn’t come from nowhere and it’s an ethos the club has stuck with throughout.

In fact, the style of football was perhaps one factor Roy Hodgson never really lasted at Anfield. It wasn’t just results that spelt the end it was how they went about it that never quite sat right with the Kop. Kenny Dalglish knows more about this style of football than most. He’s played and managed with it. So why buy a big lump of a centre-forward, who is a real throw back to the 80’s? The days when teams played with wingers who could actually get to the by-line and the big man-little man partnership upfront was the norm?

With Torres fast approaching the exit door and the team starting the season poorly, one could argue replacements were needed but with the Suarez deal being finalised at that time, was Carroll really needed? The signing always had the hallmarks of being a statement of intent from the new owners more than anything else but I wonder what intent it has shown. Some will argue that he has never had a run of games or joined the club injured and has never been fully fit but the reality is, he’s just not a Liverpool type player.

At Newcastle, Carroll was the star act and the whole system of play was set up around getting the best out of him. At Liverpool that won’t and indeed shouldn’t happen and the lad looks like a fish out of water. He is nothing like the big brash centre forward we became used to seeing at Newcastle and it is difficult to see things changing anytime soon.

There have been talks of him returning to the Toon Army in the January window but with prices being spoken of in the £10m bracket, it is unlikely that will materialise. That’s probably his true value at present – and was probably his true value last year – but the grotesquely over-inflated fee paid by Liverpool means they will be unwilling to take such a hit. Particularly in a window that is notoriously difficult to bring quality in.

Dalglish has already shown his stubbornness with the Suarez saga and it is difficult to imagine he will admit defeat so early here. But he must. Carroll is almost becoming a side-show at Liverpool and one they could well do without. Suarez’s ban should have seen the start – albeit a late start – of Carroll’s Liverpool career but instead, many fans turned their attentions to Craig Bellamy to fill the void. As the clubs record transfer, surely that can’t be right?

Stewart Downing was clearly signed to provide the ammunition for Carroll but with the ex-Villa man starting slowly at Anfield also, it hasn’t really happened. Sometimes, for whatever reason, a player and a club just don’t fit. It seems that way with Carroll. Maybe Liverpool is too big for him? Maybe the transfer fee does weigh heavy on his shoulders? Maybe Newcastle is where he should be and remain?

There’s nothing wrong with being a one man club, just asked Steven Gerrard whose new deal will ensure he finishes his career how he started it, a Liverpool player. And what of the finger of blame? Well perhaps it’s nobody’s fault. As I say sometimes it just doesn’t work. But whilst many Liverpool fans will see no wrong in anything Kenny Dalglish does, the fact remains that in Carroll, Downing and Henderson, the best part of £75m has been spent, so far with little return.

The American Owners are certainly wealthy but they clearly aren’t in the same bracket as the Manchester City hierarchy and it is difficult to imagine they will continue to bankroll signings that show little sign of return either on the pitch or in terms of re-sale value. Particularly, if another season passes by without the riches gleaned from Champions League qualification.

With the usual suspects in and around the top 4 and Tottenham’s emergence as a real force, Champions League qualification has perhaps never been so tough. It will be a long time before the Anfield faithful heap pressure on a man they see as one of their own but those across the pond may have less tolerance.

Interesting times ahead.


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Comment by Cra19 - A true Red 'head' Devil on January 18, 2012 at 11:21

Personally I think Andy Carroll is a good player, but not good enough for Liverpool.

He's become a victim due to media hype too early, two reasons;

  • His stature. He looks like an typical british centre forward, which the media love.
  • In 09/10 Carroll outscored fellow England U21s forwards Sturridge and Welbeck, so was seen as the better prospect by the media who wanted a complete overhaul of the England squad after the disappointment of the World Cup.

I think the Premier League defenders have sussed him. Before, they saw him as 'the big man' or 'the target man' therefore contested every ariel ball but let him have the ball at his feet, like you would Heskey or Carew. Now they don't because it turns out his best attribute is the power he has in his shot. The problem is he doesn't have a trick, a jink, something to create some space to unleash. Yes tactics can play a part and confidence can play a large part but I still don't think he's quite good enough. If I was to compare him to anouther PL player, it would have to be Kenwyne Jones, he's not going to get you over 15 goals a season. Suppose he still has time to prove me wrong but I just can't see it really.

Sturridge and Welbeck have proved to be better players in my opinion.

Comment by Reggie on January 16, 2012 at 21:33

I'm not so hot on tactics but I agree with a fair bit of what you're saying, I really do think he was the choice for the cynical timing we had left to get a replacement in, not entirely sure what other clubs would have done given the situation.  But, yeah, I do think he's got the skill, I just don't think he's showing it for whatever reason, I don't want him to be something he isn't, I don't expect him to be super fast etc. but I just wish he'd look like he can pick his feet up from time to time.  It's almost like he doesn't have much in the way of awareness (although seems to be getting better, the more time out he is getting) and he hasn't been looking anywhere near hungry enough to chase stuff he's missed.


I don't think he's been expected to come good so soon myself, I think the Suarez ban has really just pushed him forward into more limelight, or perhaps kenny has seen him in training and it's not looking good and we're just doing the best of a bad job right now?  Only time will tell but I have felt better about him recently the more time on the pitch he gets.  Hard to rate a player who gets 10-20minutes out when suarez is tired.

Comment by WorldClass on January 16, 2012 at 9:44

Reggie I can see where you're coming from, but you are looking at it all in a manner that is very favourable to Kenny and Liverpool... Irrespective of weather you got £50m for Torres or not. At the end of the day if Torres finds form which I think he will soon he will be worth every penny of that money, you know that, he's an incredible striker. So yes Chelsea over paid, but that does not excuse Kenny buying Carroll for £35m... you say there was no one else available... I disagree... for £20-25m you could have got a far more establish and experienced striker...  Don't look at it as basically you only payed £20, because Chelsea over paid for Torres... the deal was simply one of panic and one that wasn't thought through. 

It may have seemed like a statement of "intent" but really he's made himself look foolish, you don;t spend £35m on a player than not play to his strengths... It's not about "pass and move"... Liverpool's great teams played with wingers, wingers that took people and and crossed the ball, sure they may have worked space with nice passing moves but wing play was a huge part of Liverpools success, spreading the play and attack with speed... So when has Kenny actually played his wingers on the wing? I see them start 10 yards inside the line and on the opposite side of the pitch...  Kenny bought two players for big money that are good at certain things... Downing and Carroll... and then plays them in such away that they can't show off their talents... You'll not find many people in the prem who can deliver a better ball on the run than Downing and you'll not find may people in the Prem who is better than getting on the end of a cross... and yet the chance of that happening has been all but nullified by Kenny's tactics... Tactics that look very similar to Hodgson's by the way... except Kenny was afforded the luxury of £125m to spend where as Woy actually made I profit I believe... 

People may say Carroll is a "shit" fotballer... but it's like Scholes who can't tackle and buy right should be a CM because of that fact... but he is allowed to play to his strengths so it never became a problem. Carroll is a square peg and Kenny isn't even trying to get him in the round hole... he just expect Carroll to change...

Seriously for the way Kenny is playing Emile Heskey would have been of more value to you as he can hold that long ball Liverpool keep aiming at Carroll... pass and move erm...  and distribute it... however get dangerous crosses coming in to the area and you'll be hard pushed to find a striker who attacks the ball like Carroll... I feel sorry for the lad, he ain't the best footballer you'll ever see, but he is certainly better than many fans are suggesting. 

It's like buying an Artic Lorry to transport a bowl of jelly.... 

Comment by Reggie on January 14, 2012 at 17:12

There were many reasons behind it being carrol, the main one being that he was the only player of suitable stature that we could buy that late in the transfer period.  The torres move was incredibly cynical, not being bitter about it, it was deliberate by both torres and chelsea to cause maximum disruption.


As for the price tag, well, it's a bit of a red herring really, it was money from an overpriced deal for torres, suarez was bought in to partner torres, so that plan still held, try and find someone that luis could work off.  The choices were slim pickings.  So you can maybe think about carrol as a £20m striker with the excess coming from torres/abramovich, that extra £15m was pretty irrelevant, that having been said, it was still a £20m gamble that hasn't paid off.

It was kind of a statement of intent but I think that intent was not to be the same kind of asshat as mike ashley, i.e. take the money and don't spend it.

Lastly, I think being ripped out of the team you profess your love for at that late in the transfer market, during an injury and probably having zero say in the matter has had a profound effect on young Andy Carrol, I'm not going to give up on the lad yet, I think he deserves to at least the end of this season to see if he comes good or not, there has been pressure on the lad since he was transferred and none of it his own doing.

Comment by Doghouse on January 14, 2012 at 12:00

Carroll's problem isn't that he's a square peg, it's that he's a shit footballer.

Comment by Cra19 - A true Red 'head' Devil on January 14, 2012 at 10:59
I too believe the Andy Carroll transfer was a statement of intent by the new owners, I then think it backfired as Villa and Sunderland looked at the Carroll transfer and got ridiculous fees of their own.

I've been wanting to do a post on how Sturridge and Welbeck have been in the shadows of Carroll due to the media thirst for a 'typical British centre forward' but I'm trying to concentrate on getting this promotion at work. Anyway, both are now starting to remove the shadow although Welbeck still is very underrated as a young English forward, sadly if the Euros were next week I could see Capello choosing Carroll over the other two.


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