Kenny Dalglish had high expectations for his new strike partnership
There have been many completely justified arguments made by Liverpool fans for the club to sell Andy Carroll as soon as possible. However, this viewpoint is often coupled with recommendations to purchase a "world-class" replacement. Furthermore, instructions arise for the club to buy five more players from outside the Premier League, a fantasy shopping list of unproven players who at one point or another have shown a turn of pace or delicious piece of skill.
At the end of the day, we need to keep daydreaming for our fantasy team and our minds grounded in reality when it comes to the transfer business of the clubs we support. I would have loved to see Juan Mata unveiled in a red shirt at the beginning of this season. But a combination of lack of European football as well as Kenny Dalglish's disposition towards British talent renders this yearning pointless.
Just as Alberto Aquilani wasn't moved on a permanent basis this summer, Carroll will not be sold in January, nor will he be flogged after the end of this season. I'll go one step further and go on the record to state that Liverpool's number 9 won't be going anywhere until at least the second-last year of his contract, way down the road in 2015.
I'd like to put forward my five reasons why the big man won't be sold anytime soon, and I hope to also hear your opinion on the matter.
Andy Carroll didn't always sport a greasy ponytail
Think back to the early days of Fernando Torres' career at Liverpool and you'll remember those lightning feet, that boyish grin and oh-so-many fabulous goals. When the 2010 World Cup in South Africa came about, at the behest of his partner, the Spaniard made a decision that would see him fall from one of the most feared strikers on the planet to that forlorn man we see much too often today.
I am talking, of course, about the haircut. Gone were the golden, flowing locks to be replaced by a "smart," greasy faux-hawk that graces the heads of millions of soccer wannabes around the world. The goals dried up, the confidence became extinct and he made the choice to play Champions League matches with Chelsea.
What does this have to do with Liverpool's forlorn number 9? Simple, Andy Carroll needs to cut that ridiculous ponytail off and take a razor to that hideous excuse for facial hair.
The action that killed Torres' Liverpool career could very well revive Carroll's. With a new 'do maybe his teammates would mistake him for Suarez or Downing on occasion, and therefore resist the urge to hopefully hoof the ball onto his ample forehead.
If that doesn't work maybe Liverpool should sign Kevin Nolan, just so the two formal Newcastle men could live together again and Carroll may remember how to terrorize defenses.
John Henry has probably spent more than £35 million on his wife
People calling for the club to sell Andy Carroll should ask themselves a simple question: to whom exactly? The striker's £35 million price tag is something that is in the past and therefore cannot be changed. If Liverpool want to sell Carroll you'd be nuts to think that John Henry wouldn't want to see at least a little bit of that Fernando Torres cash returned.
In today's economic climate only Manchester City or Chelsea could pay that same £35 million, and both of those clubs are overstocked in the striker department. Even slashing that figure in half, you wouldn't bet that Tottenham Hotspur would seek to address their striking shortage by bringing on a player who hasn't been able to take that step to the next level.
OK, so what about £10 million? Taking a 70 percent haircut on their investment would surely sting Liverpool's owners, but even at this price you'd be hard pressed to find a club willing to pay this amount. Stoke have spent heavily recently but are now well stocked in the "big lads" department.
You could argue that the likes of Blackburn (who are newly flush with cash) or Neil Warnock at QPR (who loves a challenge) would be interested in the big man. But £10 million is a substantial sum and proven Premier League performers could be had for less. These clubs don't really have the time to "develop" a player as their focus is not getting relegated.
Remember how long it took for Lucas to come good?
Everyone relax! Remember how long it took for Lucas to transition from scapegoat to integral midfielder? Liverpool's faltering form this season that has seen them take far too few points at home can't be lumped onto the shoulders of Carroll. From a purely scientific standpoint, we're better off right now at the same stage last season and this side is still very much a work in progress.
Now the term "work in progress" is an easy escape to scrutiny when it comes to poor form, and I think every Liverpool fan would agree with me in saying that the team simply hasn't performed to the level we know that they are capable of.
Against Swansea last weekend, Andy Carroll did pretty much everything his teammates asked of him, knocking down crosses and long-balls and working hard against a defiant defense. No, he didn't score; but neither did Luis Suarez. And the Englishman's frustration at being replaced with a goal needed goes to show that he genuinely feels he has more to offer the team.
The big man hasn't exactly set the Premier League alight this season, but he didn't while playing for Newcastle and Dalglish has said from the first day that his striker is a long-term project. The pressure and media scrutiny is an order of magnitude larger at a club like Liverpool (not to mention attempting to justify that price tag), but the club's Scottish manager isn't one to bow to anyone opinion but his own and will reserve his judgment on Carroll in a few years.
Kenny Dalglish has problems to solve
Yes, this is a bit of a sweeping statement, but Dalglish hasn't been given contract for life at the club. And like any other manager in this day and age (except for the untouchable Sir Alex Ferguson), he needs to produce results to keep his job.
I'm not trying to say that Dalglish will get the boot if Liverpool don't win the league this season. But missing out on the Champions League would be a significant blow. Liverpool aren't scoring goals at the moment and they may be able to keep out the likes of Swansea; but facing Chelsea in the league and in the Carling Cup in quick succession will provide a stern measure of where we stand in relation to our rivals.
Dalglish can't sell Carroll, because Liverpool's owners showed a remarkable faith in the Scotsman when they sanctioned such a massive financial outlay to secure an unproven 21-year-old. Selling the player now is as good as an admission that he made an extremely expensive mistake, leading John Henry & Co. to question his ability to identify future transfer targets.
Have no doubt that the Scotsman is doing everything in his power to shape the player and give him the confidence he needs to lead the club's line. If Carroll can't make the grade, we may see King Kenny culled as a scapegoat in the aftermath.
Stewart Downing has failed to replicate his fine form at Aston Villa
When it comes down to it, unless your striker is Lionel Messi, he is not going to be able to solve the team's problems by himself and single-handedly win games. I'll go out on a limb here and postulate that Carroll isn't going to get to the little Argentinean's level this season. Or ever. In a million lifetimes.
Expectations are understandably high for such an expensive acquisition, but unless Carroll gets the support he needs we can't expect him to light up the league. Look at Fernando Torres and Liverpool post-Xabi Alonso. Brilliant player and expert finisher (until he switched to Blue), but he just wasn't getting served enough chances to display this talent.
We know that Carroll has a howitzer of a left foot and is handy in the air, but you can't say with any confidence that he's been given great opportunities by his teammates. Stewart Downing in particular should be highlighted as he was bought to put in crosses and has so far disappointed in this department. Luis Suarez isn't inherently a creator, but he's been more apt to take his chances than pass.
Liverpool fans cannot rely on Steven Gerrard to dig them out of these situations anymore, and it will be up to Charlie Adam or (God forbid) Jordan Henderson to step it up and provide better service.