Andy Carroll’s Fate May Already Be Sealed

By Jim Kostecki

The story of Andy Carroll’s Liverpool career so far is complex and at times misunderstood.  For every moment of brilliance the big man displays – from his first two Premier league goals with the club to his most recent England header during Euro 2012 – there have been twice as many blunders. His poor goal-scoring record, 11 goals in 56 Premier League appearances, often overshadows his qualities.

Goal-scorers must score goals – this is a fact.  Carroll is a goal scorer who does not score goals. He joins a long list of recent Liverpool flops – an elite club containing big names like Robbie Keane, Fernando Morientes, and Craig Bellamy (Act 1). There is a broader context to this dilemma that new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers must consider:

Carroll is young, tall, and powerful. He is also the most expensive British footballer in history, a difficult expectation to live up to.  With fans thirsty for the Premier League title, Carroll may be in a lose-lose situation.

The Dilemma

Rodgers faces three options in regards to Andy Carroll:

1) Cut your losses now and sell,

2) Loan him to another club and hope he continues to develop, or

3) Start him.

Out of these three options, the biggest risk is of course is starting Carroll. The Geordie’s style of play does not fall in line with Rodgers’ philosophy of a slow and calculated build-up play. If he stays, he must start. A £35 million flower cannot continue to wilt on the bench for a second straight year. Kenny Dalglish, while endlessly publically defending Carroll, seemingly gave up on him. Even when Luis Suarez was suspended for 8 games last January, Carroll was hardly given the opportunity to shine with the likes of Kuyt and Bellamy the preferred options.

There is no doubt that bringing Carroll on as a sub time after time is unsustainable and undesirable. He needs opportunities to prove himself. He needs goals to reinforce his lost confidence. That can only happen if he is a regular fixture in Rodgers’ starting 11.

The second option, loaning Carroll for a year, appears more likely. It is low risk and takes the pressure off of the player. Depending on the structure of the loan, Liverpool will be free of his wages while allowing him to gain valuable playing time elsewhere. Many supporters may argue that once Carroll goes on loan, his probability of returning to the Reds is low. However, Alberto Aquilani and Joe Cole have shown anything is possible.

New managers often have a short window of time before the fans thrust hardened judgment on them. In fact, Rodgers will most likely be free from criticism until at least the first game of the season. Therefore, if Carroll were to be sold – option three – it is likely to happen during this short window. No one would fault the new manager for not wanting to take a risk on Carroll. By now, most Liverpool supporters accept the fact that the return on investment will be low. A transfer will not necessarily be about the right price as it will be about the right move for both parties.

Waiting Game

Whichever option Rodgers’ chooses, it can almost be guaranteed that his mind has been made. It would be naïve to think the new manager would need time to assess whether or not Carroll will fit into his plans. Rodgers will have no desire to experiment. It has been clear from day one that Liverpool hired a man with a plan. Does this plan include the young, lumbering yet powerful forward of Andy Carroll? Only Rodgers knows the answer.

The recent capture of Fabio Borini, a young but quickly developing forward from Italy, seems to suggest Carroll’s future is at risk. Compounded with Rodgers’ lack of conviction when speaking about the big man’s future, it is hard to believe Carroll will be in a Liverpool uniform at the start of the season.

Even the most sensible football fans are guilty of over-simplifying complex issues. The Andy Carroll dilemma is far from straightforward and difficult to solve. It appears the only option is to trust the new manager’s judgment – something this author has been guilty of far too many times.

Follow Jim Kostecki on twitter @jim_kostecki

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8 thoughts on “Andy Carroll’s Fate May Already Be Sealed

  1. Rogers hasn’t even looked at Carroll other than as an outsider.He needs to be given a chance.If he is sold at a huge loss it benefits no one

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  2. Your stats in the first paragraph – 11 goals in 56 appearances – how many of those appearances were as sub, sometimes coming on for five minutes or less at times? Doesn’t really tell much of a story unless you specify how many of those matches he started and how many he came on with enough time to make an impact really does it? People are too fond of saying XX appearances and including substitute appearances. It proves stats do lie.

    Robbie Keane was not given a fair chance by Rafa – I remember one match where he scored two goals in a fine Liverpool performance and then was dropped for the next game. The problem was, it seems, that Rafa never wanted him, someone else did. His record at his other clubs proves he was a consistent striker during his career and given the right opportunity at Liverpool, may well have been successful.

    Morientes and Bellamy are class players. Morientes was at the tail end of his career with Liverpool, he may not have scored many goals for the club but produced quite a few good performances in my opinion. Bellamy was not a flop in his first period at Liverpool, he scored several crucial goals, including one in the victory at Barcelona. Again he was a player that Rafa had some kind of problem with.

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  3. By the way, there is absolutely no evidence at the moment that Carroll is leaving – it is all speculation by the “honest” English press.

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    • Mark, thanks for the comments. First off, let me agree with you that there is no evidence he is leaving. The media tends create stories out of thin air.

      I realize the 11 goals in 56 apps may be a bit misleading, since a handful of subs were him coming off the bench in the 87th or so minute. However, that is why I tried explaining that context is crucial, as you rightly point out. I left out explicitly saying “Carroll started being used as an end of the game sub” and instead focused on the overall picture of Kenny giving up on him. I see why this may be a bit confusing.

      Only time will tell what will happen with Carroll, but for now he is heading across the pond with the rest of the team to participate in the US friendlies.

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  4. Rodgers knows that Carroll wont fit “tiki taka”. Leave that even the manager who signed him Kenny did not play him in “pass and move system” then you can expect Rodgers not to repeat the same mistake again.

    Even NUFC system has changed now. They dont play direct football any more but its all built around Papiss Cisse now and clever players like ben arfa and Cabaye supporting him. Instead of Barton flowing direct balls to Carroll. Even at NUFC Carroll will be a plan B

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  5. To be honest I think we should stop speculating on it and let’s what happens. It’s bad enough with all the press speculation, I don’t think we should be adding to it. Andy must be getting confused enough about the situation already – I wonder if he’s starting to feel unwanted. Let’s find something more positive to talk about – I will be very happy if we can get Walcott and Dempsey – Theo is a Liverpool supporter (as are the rest of his family apparently) and I would love to see him at Anfield, and Dempsey definitely knows where the back of the net is, although I wasn’t always crazy about his attitude when playing against us. I would like to see our strike force as being Carroll, Borini, Dempsey and Suarez, be nice to keep Bellamy as well – four of those can quite comfortably play wide as well.

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    • Mark, I agree 100%. There’s too much pot boiling. Managing a football team is not a democratic endeavor. The man in charge will do what he does.

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