7 Reasons Why Andy Carroll Will Thrive at Liverpool
Proponents cite the team's paltry scoring record in 2011-12 as causation.
To that end, names commonly listed include Luuk de Jong, Olivier Giroud, Edinson Cavani, Jackson Martinez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar among others.
A big money signing comes with the added message that Andy Carroll is not the player of the future.
I completely disagree and foresee big things to come in 2012-13 from the big Englishman.
What follows is a list of seven marked changes that will help Carroll find form and make a name on Merseyside.
1. The Worst Is Over
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For starters, there is nowhere to go but up for both Liverpool and Carroll.
The team finished eighth.
Carroll struggled to adjust to the increased pressure of Anfield.
The intended trio of Gerrard, Suarez and Carroll rarely saw the field together.
Kenny Dalglish was inconsistent in picking his starting XI.
Subsequently, Carroll's confidence waned in correlation with his minutes.
Frankly, it is hard to imagine a worse scenario for Carroll in 2012-13.
2. Promising Late-Season Form
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Carroll ended the year on a high note.
Further, an article on this site claims that the forward "proved doubters wrong" with his strong second-half performance in the F.A. Cup Final.
I do not agree that a few strong performances erase a season of inconsistency. However, I do think that they are cause for optimism.
3. England Inclusion
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Roy Hodgson's decision to include Carroll in his 23-man roster should pay huge dividends for Liverpool.
Part of Carroll's problem on Merseyside seems to be a persistent case of self-doubt.
In a Guardian interview, he admitted as much. He claimed that it took a few "match-winning goals" before he felt truly settled.
Making the roster for England goes a long way towards erasing that anxiety.
The inclusion validates his quality to the entire world. Despite his dip in form, he is still judged to be one of the 23 best footballers in England.
Hodgson's support, and hopefully a few strong performances in the summer, should have him brimming with confidence.
4. Rodgers' Tactics
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The hiring of Brendan Rodgers has large tactical implications for Liverpool.
In short, the old 4-2-3-1 is replaced by a modified 4-3-3.
The old system placed the striker off the formation up front. When Liverpool ran out of ideas under Dalglish, they punted it forward hoping to catch Carroll in the air. That style of play asks a lot and is a bit outdated.
Further, Carroll would go long spells without seeing the ball. As a result, his first touch suffered, and his confidence dipped.
Rodgers brings with him the Barcelona-style integrated approach.
In an interview via EPL Index, Rodgers describes the style:
When we have the football everybody’s a player. The difference with us is that when we have the ball we play with 11 men, other teams play with 10 and a goalkeeper.
Essentially, the new manager expects his striker to not only score, but also pass and create. He is purely the finisher; he is a link in the chain.
This approach should work for Carroll, whose vision and passing ability is vastly underrated. He should perform better given the increased time on the ball.
5. Rodgers' Mentorship
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Brendan Rodgers also has an outstanding history of getting the most out of his players.
Examples abound at Swansea City.
Gylfi Sigurdsson was a cast-off from Hoffenheim. Rodgers made him a star at Liberty Stadium.
Chelsea did not see enough in Scott Sinclair to re-sign him. Rodgers made Sinclair a consistent EPL starter.
It remains to be seen what the new manager can do with someone of Carroll's potential. The sky is the limit.
6. If Not Him, Who Else?
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As Dalglish found out the hard way, Suarez is out of position leading the line.
The only other halfway viable option is Craig Bellamy. But at his age, he is not an every-game starter.
Short of Liverpool signing a world-class striker in the offseason, Carroll is the only option.
Given a full run of 38 games, he has to come into his own.
Conclusion: He Is Still the £35 Man
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Finally, this is still the same player who starred for Newcastle. FSG saw fit to spend £35 million for a reason.
Carroll lit up Tyneside. That kind of ability does not go away overnight.
He's only 23, and his best days are in front of him.
2013 will be the year of the 6'5" Englishman, if only he is given the chance.