If you are a regular reader of my articles, you will no doubt have read the piece I wrote a few weeks back where I gave five reasons why I feel that Craig Bellamy can play a big part in helping Liverpool win a Premier League title within the next two seasons for which he is contracted to club.
In that article, I made mention of the impact I believe Bellamy can have on club record signing, Andy Carroll. This was picked up on by a number of readers who commented and asked if I could go into further detail on this matter. Apologies for the delay in getting this article finished and published.
Here are the five main reasons I believe Bellamy can be a pick help to Carroll and help him develop into a top class striker and begin to repay the faith, and investment, Liverpool have put in him.
I hope you enjoy.
Lazy. Uninterested. Not bothered.
Those are just three of terms used to describe Andy Carroll's attitude of late. Those are three terms you will never hear aimed at Craig Bellamy. Win, lose or draw, Bellamy gives his all every single time he steps over the white line and onto the pitch.
Carroll's current attitude towards playing football is one that must infuriate all Liverpool fans. Liverpool fans will forgive most things as long as a player shows a passion for the crest on the front of the jersey. Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt have become fan favourites because of their work rate and desire to help the club succeed. Jamie Carragher has become a legend due to his never say attitude, and Steven Gerrard has become one of the all time Anfield greats based on his habit of putting the team on his shoulders and dragging them to success.
Carroll, unfortunately, doesn't seem to care about the club. Now stop and read that carefully. I'm not saying he doesn't care; I'm saying he doesn't seem to care. There's no obvious drive or determination from the man. He seems unmotivated, uncaring and unfit.
What exactly did Carroll do with his summer break? Well he went on holiday and seemed to enjoy posing for pictures of himself enjoying a few beverages. Surely a summer spent in a gym or at Melwood would have been a better way to spend his time. He can't have needed a rest; he barely played from December to May.
Carroll's decision not to spend the summer getting himself in top condition is a worrying one and one that again brings into question his motivation for the game. Against Sunderland and Arsenal, he ambled about the pitch, looking more like a pensioner out for their weekly walk around the park than a professional footballer getting paid £60k a week. When introduced as a sub against Bolton and Stoke, he appeared to be sulking at the fact that he hadn't started and put in even less effort.
Bellamy will not stand for teammates playing the game at walking pace. He will let people know when they're not putting in enough effort. If he can get inside Carroll's head and get the big man fired up, then Carroll could start to look like a Premier League striker. Right now, he looks nothing of the sort.
My hope would be that it starts on the training ground and that Bellamy can become a mentor to Carroll and teach him how to take better physical care of himself and get him working harder on and off the pitch. Regardless of his limited technical ability, if Andy Carroll played the game like say, Kevin Davies, he would score 15-20 goals due to his physical gifts alone. He would also win the support of the fans because, as I mentioned early, Liverpool fans love players that give their all.
Mr. Carroll needs to learn that when he puts on a Liverpool shirt, he should be playing for the crest on the front and the thousands in the stands, not the name on the back and the thousands in his bank account. Bellamy can hopefully teach him to do that with encouragement and example, and if not, he can probably go fetch his trusty golf club and teach him the old fashioned way.
At 22, Bellamy was a limited player with one primary weapon, just as Carroll is now. Bellamy's pace was to him what ability in the air is to Carroll. Carroll has shown no improvement in any other aspect of his game since joining Liverpool, and for a player who was bought to play a major role in the long term future of the team, that's not good.
This links back to Carroll's lack of motivation. His summer should have been spent on treadmills, weight machines and training pitches, rather than on beaches and in bars. Carroll should have used the summer months to work on things like his short passing, his movement and his control. His complete lack of ability in those three areas are key to the failings, thus far, of his partnership with Luis Suarez.
If Bellamy can relay his own experiences on expanding his repertoire and improving his own all-round game to Carroll, then the young striker could start to develop into something resembling the top class striker Liverpool hoped they were buying. Bellamy can talk to Carroll about the different aspects of the game that he has improved on that are relevant to what Carroll needs to be working on.
Bellamy's first touch is excellent these days, and that comes from long hours spent on the training ground; the same goes for his movement and short passing ability. Bellamy is also excellent at finding space and thus making himself available for a pass.
Carroll is poor in this aspect. When he receives the ball, he's rarely got a couple of yards around him. Space equals time. When a player like Bellamy receives the ball, he's often able to take a touch, have a look at his options and pick the best one. Right now, Carroll doesn't give himself that space and tends to hurry everything.
Bellamy's pace helps his ability to move into space, but pace isn't everything in this aspect. Chris Sutton was a master of finding a couple of yards, receiving the ball and laying it off. Sutton had no pace. He just had his intelligence and awareness.
Others to look at in this regard are people like Juan Carlos Valeron, Juan Sebastian Veron and Juan Roman Riquelme. While these players obviously played different positions to Carroll and were all other worldly in their technical ability, it was their intelligence and awareness that allowed them to find the space. Carroll must work on these things and study players like Bellamy, Suarez, Kuyt and other strikers who are adept at finding space.
Being able to retain possession for your team is an important factor for any player, and if he can work on touch, short passing, movement and finding space, then he will be able to contribute to Liverpool. Right now, unless he's scoring goals(which he isn't), he offers nothing to the team. He'll never be a creative player, but he can be a cog in a machine, and that's a valuable thing to be.
Bellamy might also take the time to teach Carroll the ins and outs of freekick taking. Bellamy has really developed this under-rated aspect of his game, and with Carroll's sledgehammer of a left foot, he could be a very potent weapon from freekicks from anywhere up to 35 yards from goal.
This is another area in which Bellamy can help Carroll: dealing with expectations. Both made big money moves at early ages to clubs were expectations ran high.
Obviously the £6.5million Newcastle paid for Bellamy is nothing in comparison to what Liverpool paid for Carroll, but at the time, it did represent a pretty big investment in such a young player, and it came with a lot of pressure. This was actually the second time in his young career that Bellamy had moved for £6million or more, as Coventry had paid a similar amount when buying him a year earlier from Norwich.
Bellamy also made transfers during his career that have amounted to around £47million. Whatever way you look at it, that's a lot of money. Six teams have paid transfer fees for his services, so those moves average out at just shy of £8million per move. Bellamy has had to deal with pressure at each and every club he's been at. Even his loan moves to Celtic and Cardiff have come with a lot of pressure.
He's dealt with that pressure very well at most clubs and made himself one of the best and most important players at each club. Carroll doesn't seem to be coping well with the pressure of the big money move. It seems to be weighing him down.
Bellamy can help with that. He can sit the big man down and stand up himself so they are then of equal height and talk him through the best way of dealing with pressure from both the fans and the media. What to do, what to say, who to look to etc. etc.
Carroll has been subjected to the "What a waste of money" chants in every game. Liverpool have played this far from the opposition support. Bellamy got similar treatment at different times, but he found ways to rise above it. If he can pass those ways onto Carroll, then perhaps Carroll can clear the doubts from his mind and start enjoying his football. A happy player is a productive player, and Liverpool need a productive return on their investment.
Craig Bellamy is an unpopular player with fans of teams he doesn't play for. It's not because they don't rate him as a player; it's because of the way he plays. It's because of the way he carries himself. And it's because of the snarl he constantly has on his face.
Bellamy has the body of a small man, but not the mentality of one. In stature, he's about the same size as Michael Owen. In his mind, he's a giant of a man who looks down upon his opponents. This mentality gives Bellamy a vital edge. When he's on the pitch, opponents know he's there. He let's them know he's there.
When Andy Carroll is on the pitch, it would be easy to forget that he's there. And that's a major problem. It's one thing fans not recognizing what he's doing or not noticing him being involved in the match. It's another thing completely when his opponents are having an easy time of things.
Bellamy's opponent will never have an easy time of things. His work rate ensures it and his aggression emphasises it. Bellamy is not a dirty player, but he is a nasty one. He gets in people's faces, he trash talks, he crunches into tackles and admittedly, from time to time, he'll give someone a sly dig of an elbow in ribs or a tap on the ankle. He doesn't do that to hurt them; he does it to rattle them.
It's an age old trick that dates back to the 1930's and 40's. It's something that was perfected by Don Revie's Leeds United team of the 60's and 70's. Billy Bremner and John Giles were fabulous players, but they could mix it with the best and would often use underhand tactics to throw the opposition of their game.
As I mentioned in my previous article, Carroll has a nasty streak inside that resembles that which Bellamy proudly wears on his sleeve. The two greatest England centre-forwards of all time, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer, have both had a nasty side to them, which they were not afraid to use to get the better of defenders.
The way Bellamy does it, and the way people like Shearer and Lofthouse did it, is the right way to play aggressively. Of course, you can take it too far and end up like Alan Smith, who would apparently growl and people in the street all while walking around looking like a 14-year-old that would get knocked over by a strong gust of wind. Smith also managed to accrue an immense number of red cards during his undistinguished career at Leeds, Manchester United and Newcastle.
Carroll needs to find the right of doing it and work hard on it. He wants to be an England centre-forward like Shearer and Lofthouse, not the third choice defensive midfielder for a mid-table Premier League club like Smith. Liverpool also want him to turn out the first way; they've invested far too much for his turn out the second way.
Carroll needs to watch how Bellamy uses his aggressive side and learn to develop and channel his own.
With Carroll's game currently centring around, and ending with, his ability in the air, Liverpool need a potential partner for him that can thrive off that sort of partner. Suarez is far too good to be reduced to running onto flicks on and knockdowns and attempting to make him play that way is taking away all the things that make him a great player.
Right now, Suarez and Carroll are not a good pairing, and if the performances of Carroll and Kuyt against Arsenal are anything to go by, that's not a partnership to put much faith in either. Kuyt's game is based on hard-work, running the channels and keeping things short and simple. Like Suarez, Kuyt prefers the ball on the ground and to his feet.
Bellamy on the other hand is very adept at playing off a targetman and snapping up chances from flick ons and knockdowns. His pace and awareness allow him to make the right runs to meet the ball when the big man gets his head to it. I would like to see this pairing, but in operation in games where Dalglish decides to rest Suarez because I think that it can be a success. Being part of a successful partnership, even if it is the second-line pairing, will give Carroll confidence.
Bellamy is also excellent at dropping into wide positions and providing quality crosses, something Carroll needs if he is going to score goals.
As his game develops, in the areas alluded to on the slide No. 3, then Carroll can become a more suitable partner for Suarez and can have a legitimate claim for a starting role as opposed to now where his only claim is the pricetag he carries.
If that partnership does come to fruition, then Carroll is going to have to make another adjustment. At Newcastle, he was the top dog; at Liverpool, he won't be. He's going to have to learn how to be the sidekick rather than the main man. In partnership with his fellow gunslinger Suarez, he will need to learn to be Cole Younger, rather than Jesse James. Doc Holliday or Wyatt Earp. He must learn that even when you're not the main man, you can still be hugely important and forever remembered.
Again, he could look at Chris Sutton in this aspect. Sutton was Norwich's main man; at Blackburn, he played a secondary role to Alan Shearer. Despite it being a secondary role, it was a key role and helped Blackburn win a Premier League title.
Bellamy can lend his experience to this transition as well. At Coventry City, he was the main man; at Newcastle, he played second fiddle to Alan Shearer. At Blackburn, he was the main man; at Liverpool, he played second fiddle to Peter Crouch or Dirk Kuyt. At West Ham, he was the main man; at Manchester City, he played second fiddle to Carlos Tevez.
A big part of accepting the secondary role is controlling your ego. Carroll has displayed, through his lack of effort and "me first" attitude, that he might have a big ego. That's common in most high profile young players and can be addressed with good management, which Carroll will get at Liverpool.
If Carroll can develop his game and be patient in learning the different aspects of football, he can earn his place in the first team. Earning his place is the key. Thus far, he has merely been handed opportunities. He is yet to earn the right to wear the Liverpool jersey. When he has earned that right it will be because he has worked hard and improved his game, and at that point, he can kick on and take things to the next level.
But he will also have to remember to check his ego at the door and remember that Liverpool are going to be Suarez's team for a long time to come, especially when Steven Gerrard calls it a day.
So there you have it, my five main reasons why Craig Bellamy can have a big influence on Andy Carroll and help him repay Liverpool’s faith, as well as their investment.
The role of mentor is going to play a key role in the next couple of years for Liverpool, and Bellamy/Carroll is not the only old and young relationship that Liverpool will be reliant on. Jamie Carragher will be looked to as a mentor for Martin Kelly, Andre Wisdon and Sebastian Coates. Steven Gerrard will also need to take Jonjo Shelvey, Connor Coady and Jordan Henderson under his wing.
These mentor/pupil relationships will need to come to fruition if Liverpool want to have major success without being forced to spend another £100million in the transfer market.
Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below. Thanks for reading; I hope you've enjoyed the article.