In the build-up to West Ham United’s game at Liverpool this weekend, Hammers loanee Andy Carroll has naturally hogged the headlines with his status as a Reds player after his season-long spell at Upton Park comes to an end.
As ever, different sources have spun the same story differently: the Telegraph suggest that Carroll “would not even be guaranteed a place on the bench on a week-to-week basis”; the Daily Mail say that Brendan Rodgers would be willing to give him a chance next season; and the Mirror report that Liverpool might swap Carroll for Newcastle United’s Hatem Ben Arfa.
Here are five reasons Liverpool should give Andy Carroll another chance after this season is up. As usual, let us know your thoughts and views in the comments below.
First things first, and credit where it’s due: Andy Carroll has had a good season at West Ham United.
In 17 league appearances Carroll has delivered five goals in an overall stop-start season due to injuries, but while the stats haven’t recorded an official league assist, West Ham fans will tell you that he has been a key part of their attack whenever he has been fit.
Carroll’s link-up play with Kevin Nolan has been particularly impressive, though that will have been expected due to the close relationship they fostered during their time at St. James’ Park.
A recent run of fine form—four goals in six starts, including two just last weekend against West Bromwich Albion—will see Carroll enter the final weeks of the Premier League season high in confidence, and he will hope to improve his goal return before ending his stint in London.
The apparent key to Carroll performing is confidence: When he’s confident, Carroll scores goals.
His two goals against West Brom last weekend showcased the best of his talents: aerial ability and a fearsome shot, and his volley (second goal) also reflects an underappreciated technical ability on the ball.
He hasn’t enjoyed a fearsome scoring run in West Ham colors yet, and he certainly didn’t at Liverpool, but it’s clear that Carroll provides attributes that few other strikers in the EPL do, and that he can be an important match-winner with the arsenal of skills he brings to the pitch.
There’s a reason Sam Allardyce wants to extend Carroll’s stay at Upton Park (Daily Mail).
Brendan Rodgers’ first season at Liverpool has seen him steady the Anfield ship after several seasons of misjudged transfer business and uncertain on-field playing approaches (see Roy Hodgson’s disastrous tenure in 2010).
In recent weeks, the odd result apart (see the 1-3 away loss at Southampton a few weeks ago), it seems that Rodgers’ vision of a pass-and-move Liverpool is closer to bearing fruit.
But for all of the aesthetically pleasing approach play and on-the-ground attacking style, Liverpool remain toothless on and against set pieces, and lack a visible goal-scoring force from the air.
Andy Carroll provides that and more, and while he might not start week in, week out, he would represent a fine option from the option, if Rodgers is willing to reconsider his bizarre quote that he wouldn’t want to change his approach even when chasing a match.
The January additions of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho have significantly strengthened the Liverpool forward line, from one of the league’s most imbalanced (essentially Luis Suarez and no one else) to one of its most dynamic and exciting.
Add the aerial power and finishing ability of Andy Carroll, and with the exception of Luis Suarez, Liverpool will have a fearsome, all-rounded strikeforce with all members under the age of 25.
That young prospects are at the forefront of Liverpool’s transfer policy is well-known: Now it’s just a matter of building a team that achieves success and matches this same policy at the same time.
Carroll has done it before: During the final months of Kenny Dalglish’s reign, he enjoyed a rich vein of form and was growing in stature and confidence. If he does it again, Liverpool might not have to strengthen up front for years to come.
And that would be a perfect scenario for the coming summer, because Brendan Rodgers has plenty of work to do in other playing departments.
Such has the renaissance of the forward line been at Anfield that it is virtually the only area of the pitch that isn’t a transfer priority: Disregarding the rumors linking Pepe Reina with an exit, Brad Jones is not a good enough No. 2; the defence has been a shambles in recent weeks and will need significant investment considering Jamie Carragher’s impending retirement and Martin Skrtel’s shocking form; and the midfield needs a more forceful presence than Lucas and Joe Allen.
The record-breaking £35 million transfer fee for Andy Carroll is a thing of the past, albeit a thing that has in all probability weighed heavily on the player himself. Ending the season on a high will see him return to Anfield with renewed confidence.
At which point Brendan Rodgers will hopefully take another good long look and work his own rejuvenation magic. After all, we’ve already seen that turnarounds are possible at Liverpool: Just look at Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson this season.
Perhaps the story of Andy Carroll, Liverpool’s No. 9, isn’t quite over yet.