I can hear all the people clicking onto this article saying to themselves, "They don't play the same position, so why would Liverpool signing a winger affect Carroll's future?" That is a valid question and under different circumstances I would be asking the same thing. However, when I was writing my article about Liverpool signing Oussama Assaidi, I found myself wondering about the impact this would have on Andy Carroll's place in the squad.
Summer of Speculation
Liverpool's, and new manager Brendan Rodgers', comments about Andy Carroll's future with Liverpool have been mixed. Reports in early July, including this from BBC.co.uk, quoted Rodgers as being open to the possibility of Carroll leaving the club on loan and extolling the virtues and experience loan moves can provide players.
A week after the report above, Liverpool's stance appeared to change. This report, again through BBC.co.uk, has Liverpool against a loan move for Carroll, but seemingly open to "worthwhile" offers for the striker to leave on a permanent deal. All of this, I must add, took place before Rodgers had even had the opportunity to meet with Carroll, who was still on his summer vacation having been involved in with the England team at the European Championships.
Throughout this constant speculation over Andy Carroll's future at Liverpool, the reported bids from West Ham United, the reports above of Carroll's loan availability, then the flip-flop to not being available for a loan move, the player himself has remained adamant he wants to remain at Liverpool. Seemingly unwilling to admit defeat and be labelled a flop, Carroll wants to prove his value to his team, and battle to impress his new manager.
This constant speculation about his future is hardly ideal preparation for Andy Carroll for the new Premier League season. After stringing together some impressive performances at the end of the 2011-12 season, and carrying that form to the European Championships with England, Carroll should have been entering pre-season training and games on a high and looking forward to the start of the 2012-13 season. Instead, he's had to spend the summer dealing with constant speculation and wonder as to his place in the Liverpool squad.
The New Season Looms
Liverpool begin their new Premier League campaign tomorrow, Saturday August 18th, with a game away to West Bromwich Albion. To bring his vision for Liverpool's style of play to life Rodgers has made big-money moves, signing Joe Allen (£15m) and Fabio Borini (£11m) and stated on Thursday that he hoped to sign two more players within the next 48 hours.
When news broke yesterday of a new Liverpool signing, Moroccan winger Oussama Assaidi, I wondered what it would mean for Andy Carroll. So close to the start of the new season, so deep into preparations, practice and planning, Liverpool have signed a winger with speed, skill and the ability to score goals. How would this affect the lineup? How would this affect the player who has faced so much speculation this summer already? Am I adding to the speculation by writing this article? Unfortunately, I am adding to speculation, but felt I needed to ask the question.
Having already discussed the speculation revolving around Andy Carroll over the summer, and now looked at the new Liverpool acquisitions, what will happen to the big Geordie? I noted earlier that Carroll wants to remain a Liverpool player and prove his worth. With the wealth of talent behind him, and the attacking style of Rodgers, I think Carroll could have an amazing season with Liverpool—if they want him.
Just days ago, following Liverpool's 3-0 win over Germany's Bayer Leverkusen , Rodgers was impressed with both Carroll's performance in the game and the way he is adapting to the new style of play. To those of us who have watched Carroll for years, this shouldn't come as a surprise as there is more to Carroll's game than just his heading ability. This praise seemed to be a step in the right direction from Rodgers, a realization that maybe Carroll is his man after all. Now, with the addition of a new winger, it raises doubt once again.
Why would signing a winger raise doubt? It raises doubt, for me, in Rodgers' faith in Carroll to lead his line because of the other players at the club. Prior to this signing, I felt that Rodgers would play Carroll as the striker and flank him with Suarez and Borini—who, in my opinion, have both played their best football when being used as wide forwards rather than central strikers. With that combination, Liverpool would have pace, trickery, power and unpredictability through the forward positions. With the wing backs, Enrique and Johnson, to provide crosses and Borini, Suarez and Carroll to attack the middle, Liverpool have the players to cause problems to opponents from all angles.
However, the addition of a new winger could change the mindset of Rodgers completely. With this addition, I feel that Rodgers may be looking at bringing lots of pace to the attack, which would rule the relatively slow Carroll out of the running for a starting position. With Assaidi, Suarez and Borini as the three primary starting forwards, Rodgers will have three players who like to run with the ball and attack the middle. This starting forward line looks more like a lineup Rodgers would have used for Swansea. This starting forward line leaves no room for Andy Carroll.
Having been excited about the prospect of seeing Andy Carroll in a fast paced, attack-minded team with a license to roam around and use his large frame to trouble the opposition, I am now worried he will either be consigned to the bench or moved on to another club. I feel that losing Carroll right after he began to settle into the team will be a huge loss from Liverpool, and could be a factor leading to the unthinkable for Liverpool fans—back to back seasons finishing below Everton.