Andy Carroll: Why Liverpool May Regret Loaning Him out to West Ham
Fast forward to the final days of the 2012 summer transfer window, and the same striker was heading back out of Anfield—on loan to West Ham United.
The reasons and arguments are varied for whether Carroll should have been kept, deserved to be let go on loan, sold permanently or was never properly given a chance at the club and, to certain degrees, have their own semblance of truth behind them.
What is sure though, is that Liverpool are likely to pay a price for the action of letting him go on loan without a replacement being brought in afterwards. Or even better, beforehand.
Here are five reasons why the Reds could regret loaning Andy Carroll out.
No Respite for Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini
With Carroll having left on loan and no replacement being brought in on deadline day, Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers are left with just two senior forwards in the first team squad—one of those a 21-year-old with minimal experience in English football.
Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini will play in the vast majority of Premier League games for which they are fit—leaving them increasingly open to injuries because of fatigue if they also have to take part in League Cup and Europa League fixtures, as was the case versus Hearts in the playoff match.
Who Is Going to Score the Goals?
Goals and Andy Carroll?
Eleven strikes in 58 games for the club don't exactly point to a prolific rate that Liverpool will regret letting go, but Carroll is still a forward, and a plenty good one, and given games, he will score.
With Suarez and Borini struggling early in the season to convert chances, Liverpool need others to step up as well to aid them.
Maybe Carroll wouldn't have been a 15- or 20-goal man had he stayed as a squad member, but there would be times he would come on and have an impact from the bench, grabbing a goal for the Reds.
Can the youth at the club have the same impact and fearlessness? It remains to be seen.
Youngsters Having to Be Thrown in Before They're Ready
Sometimes youngsters need an injury, a transfer out, a bit of luck or just a few minutes' cameo to get the chance in the first team they crave: take their opportunity and have an impact.
From there, they are a fixture in the first team squad and their careers are started, if not entirely forged. (See Raheem Sterling for a recent example of this.)
For others, though, the pressure can be too much to cope with, or else the disappointment of getting a taste of first team action before being plunged back in the reserves afterwards.
Were they not good enough? Not strong enough? Not reliable enough? Sometimes it's none of these things; all will however play on the minds of a young footballer perhaps not mentally-developed enough to understand and accept the decisions made by a manager.
There can be no doubt that playing youngsters too early is a risk; it could make them but in some cases can also break them.
Tactical Options Limited
Is Andy Carroll just a Plan B? Does he have to be at a club like Liverpool?
Those are questions for a different article—but what his lack of presence in the squad does do is limit other possibilities in attack. Brendan Rodgers is never going to be the kind to throw Carroll on and ask the defenders to launch it 70 yards forward onto his head every time, but there are other ways to use a forward.
Playing Suarez just off Carroll with two-up top for example is no longer possible; even if Borini replaces Carroll in that system, then the Reds lose one (also a small number) of their players who can play in a wide position.
Numbers and depth are important, especially in an area such as the final third where rotation and keeping players fresh is important on account of the amount of closing down and off the ball movement they must get through.
Risk of Losing Further Value Away from the Club
Just over an hour into his West Ham debut on loan from Liverpool, Andy Carroll collapsed—injured—clutching his hamstring.
He will be out for up to six weeks initially, but as any Reds fan will tell you, six weeks out of action for Carroll can quite easily develop into eight or 10 as he tries to regain fitness and sharpness.
His body shape and tone appears to need several matches and weeks of training to get him looking ready to play regularly again, and in the meantime, he can be somewhat ineffective on and off the ball.
For Sam Allardyce and his tactics, this should be largely negated by needing Carroll to only stand still so that his other players can find him with 30- or 40-yard passes to his head, but his all-round contribution will certainly not figure high on anybody's "highlights of the week" reel.
Should Carroll suffer further injury problems, or take as long to recover fully from them at West Ham as he initially did at Liverpool, then the Reds could find that come the end of the season, the Hammers no longer require his services—or, like Juventus and AC Milan with Alberto Aquilani, want to sign him permanently on vastly reduced terms.
Liverpool are already going to take a hit on Carroll when they sell him, they certainly can't afford for that value to drop much lower.