Andy Carroll: 10 Things Liverpool's £35 Million Flop Must Do Better
Liverpool sold an out-of-form Fernando Torres to Chelsea for £50 million, and the loss of the world-class striker, even when he was out of form, has never been more apparent as when his replacement is on the pitch.
With Luis Suarez set for an eight-match suspension that started with the Reds match against Manchester City on January 3, 2012, it truly is about to be put up or shut up time for England international Carroll.
Get in Shape
When Andy Carroll made his overpriced move from Tyneside to Merseyside he was carrying a thigh injury, and he was battling to get back to full-match fitness.
However, he still continues to struggle to be fully match fit, and his physical endurance is about to be tested in the next two months.
Get a Good Run of Games
One of the reasons, however, that Carroll has been facing such a battle for fitness is a lack of chances in the first team.
You can practice at Melwood all you like with the Reds during the week, but the only way to truly be fit for matches is to play in them.
Create Space for Bellamy, Suarez and Gerrard
There are times that Carroll can be effective off the ball.
Steven Gerrard's goal against Newcastle United on Friday, December 30, 2011, was a prime example of how Carroll's movement away from the net brings the defenders with him, opening the gap for Gerrard to strike.
If the team is to be more dynamic than just bombing balls in to Carroll, he has to make off the ball runs to help his teammates get better shots on goal.
Fix His First Touch
I honestly do not know how many balls Andy Carroll has lost this season because his first touch was just too solid.
He has yet to regain the ball skills or the nose for goal that he displayed in his half season of play with Newcastle when he scored 11 goals before moving to Liverpool.
Out Muscle the Defenders
For the most part this season Andy Carroll has failed to use his size or his strength to power through his opposition.
His ability to head the tall above the defenders is his main asset, but that has yet to be seen for most of his time on Merseyside other than his headed goal against Manchester City last March when for nearly the only time his full ability shined.
Get Better Service
While it is true Carroll has to be more effective, in order to do so he also needs quality service in the box.
The Reds have played a ton of crosses into the penalty area this season, but the majority have not been well placed.
Steven Gerrard's return could see that change as the Reds captain has the most precise cross in the squad, and that has been missing the whole season.
Carroll was unlucky not to score from Gerrard's cross against Newcastle when he rattled the bar yet again this season.
Stay on His Feet
Along with being deceptively weak at times in the air, Andy Carroll spends more time on his arse flopping around in complete and utter clumsiness than I have ever seen of a footballer.
How can you have the balance to have scored some of your goals in the past that were master class, yet you cannot balance enough to stand up and run upright?
Be in a Good Position
Positionally, Andy Carroll is a striker, but most of the time he is not always in a good position to be effective. If the ball is on the ground, he is not the most effective in front of the net. Just watch the howler of an effort against Blackburn Rovers at Anfield.
If the ball is not in the air, he needs to drift to the top of the box in the style of Craig Bellamy and wait to unleash his powerful shot when the ball comes back out.
However, that will require work on that all important first touch thing we talked about.
Finish the Chances He Gets
Andy Carroll, while having looked like a bumbling fool for most of the season, has hit the woodwork five or six times in addition to his two goals.
Had his finishing touch been there he should have easily converted those plus at least three or four more, and he really should have about 10 to 12 goals at the moment.
He has to get his head down and put the finish on the ball. He is an England international for gosh sakes and should do better.
Bottom line—the youngster has to score goals. I don't care who you are, if you are a striker it is your job to put the ball into the back of the net, or the club needs to get someone who will because you are the game-winner.
Andy Carroll is yet to prove to me that he is a match-winner for Liverpool, and if he does not step up in the absence of Luis Suarez, I have a feeling Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt are all the Reds can fall back on.
While Andy Carroll has potential to be great, and I truly believe that, he is yet to prove to anyone that he ever will be.
He is still young and has a lot to learn, but at a club like Liverpool you have to score goals to be successful, and Carroll currently does not look like the man for the job.
However, I hope I am completely wrong and he scores eight braces in a row without Suarez, but that really is not likely.