Liverpool's Striking Woes: Five Goal Scorers Who Flopped at Anfield
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Liverpool fans are unlikely to think of their club as a graveyard for strikers. Forwards such as Fernando Torres, Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush have forged their reputations at Anfield with world-class performances and goal-scoring records. Yet, for all the legends who have basked in the admiration of the Kop, a greater number of forwards have left Anfield with their reputations tarnished.
The club currently lies 14th in the league, three points above the relegation zone, and are in desperate need of a goalscorer to help them convert possession into victories. Manager Brendan Rodgers will almost certainly try to sign another striker in the January transfer window after failing to boost his forward line in the summer.
His need for extra striking options was heightened last week with the news that Fabio Borini had sustained an injury while on international duty with Italy.
The Liverpool manager will be hoping that any new arrival will avoid the curse that has befallen so many strikers at Anfield in the past decade.
From promising youngsters with big futures ahead of them to established forwards with big reputations, here are some of the strikers that have seen the goals dry up after pulling on the Liverpool jersey.
Out for three months
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Borini’s slow start to his Anfield career has been compounded by breaking a bone in his toe while training with the Italian U-21 squad. The striker, a 10.5 million pound summer signing, has struggled to find the net since moving to Liverpool, after scoring nine goals in 24 games in Serie A for Roma last season.
He has so far failed to score in any of his five Premier League appearances for Liverpool this season, being substituted in four of his starts. His last, and so far only, goal in a total of 11 games for the Reds came in August against FC Gomel of Belarus in a Europa League qualifier.
Borini was dropped to the bench for Liverpool’s last league game against Stoke before picking up his injury, and may find that his chances will be limited to Europa League games as he works to rediscover his scoring touch.
The Italian is something of a Rodgers prodigy, having worked with the Liverpool manager at Chelsea and at Swansea, and will probably be given more time and opportunities to adapt to the physical demands of the English game.
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A dominating performance for Southampton against Liverpool in a league game helped persuade Rafa Benitez to pay seven million pounds to bring Crouch to Anfield the summer of 2005. The gangly forward’s form for the south-coast club had seen him rewarded with his first England call-up, but his scoring touch deserted him at Anfield.
After scoring 16 goals in 33 league games in the previous season for the Saints, Crouch took 19 games to get off the mark for Liverpool, finally breaking his duck for the Reds in a 3-0 win against Wigan Athletic in December. He finished his first year at Anfield with 13 goals in 49 appearances.
The strikers’ Liverpool career was not without highlights. He helped the Reds reach the Champions League final in 2007, and scored a stunning hat trick against Arsenal in a 4-1 league victory at Anfield in the same year.
Ultimately though, he failed to convince Benitez that he had enough quality to help Liverpool progress, and the arrival of Fernando Torres at Liverpool meant that he was no longer first choice. Crouch moved to Portsmouth in the summer of 2008.
A legend in La Liga
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The Liverpool Echo cruelly, though perhaps accurately, described Fernando Morientes in the following terms;
``Morientes is a bit like bird flu. He’s been lethal in other countries and we keep getting told it’s only a matter of time before he makes his mark here, but there’s no sign of it yet.’’
In a glittering career with Real Madrid, the Spanish forward had picked up three Champions League winners’ medals. Luring him to Anfield in January 2005 was very much regarded as a coup for Rafa Benitez.
Unfortunately, Morientes never found his rhythm for the Reds and only showed glimpses of his undoubted skill. The striker returned to Valencia in Spain after a 16-month stint at Anfield having scored only 12 times in 61 games for the Reds.
El Hadji Diouf
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Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier signed Senegalese forward El Hadji Diouf before the start of the 2002 World Cup in Japan. Diouf sparkled at the tournament and led his country to the quarterfinals in their debut appearance. Liverpool fans thought that their manager secured a bargain.
Though not a prolific striker in French league, Diouf had scored a respectable 18 goals in 54 games in two seasons for Lens.
Diouf’s World Cup form carried through to the start of his Liverpool career with the striker scoring twice in his home debut. He didn’t add to that tally for another three months and only managed to score six times in the whole season.
Liverpool fans started to suspect that Houllier might have bought a dud when the manager started to play Diouf on the right wing. In his next season, wearing the no. 9 shirt that had previously been worn by goal-scoring legends such as Ian Rush and John Aldridge, the Senegalese forward failed to score a single goal.
Liverpool's record signing
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No list of Liverpool’s failed striker would be complete without mentioning Andy Carroll.
With 50 million pounds from the sale of Fernando Torres to Chelsea burning a hole in his pocket, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish decided it would be a good idea to spend 35 million pounds to bring Newcastle United star Andy Carroll to Anfield in the January transfer window in 2011.
Carroll had scored 11 goals in the first half of the season for Newcastle on their return to the Premier League and was still considered an unproven entity. After initially struggling to overcome an injury sustained at Newcastle, Carroll only showed brief glimpses of his early-season form in the second part of the season for Liverpool.
In his first full term, Carroll scored nine goals in 47 games as Liverpool struggled in the Premier League and slumped to their worst finish in 18 years. He is unlikely to return.