The opinion of football fans on Andy Carroll is pretty much split into two camps: Love him or Hate him. I, as an optimistic Liverpool fan, reside in the former camp. Residing there as I do, I am concerned about his future with Liverpool, with Brendan Rodgers’ “A player worth £35m can play in any system” line becoming increasingly tiresome. With Rodgers having to make a decision on the Tyne striker, I pose the question: Should Liverpool Stick or Twist?
While the transfer fee has been frequently played upon in relation to Carroll, £35m is an awful lot to spend on any player, and surely it would be worth Liverpool’s while giving him a second chance, rather than letting him go for half the price on the back of one poor season for the club. He is their record signing by a country mile, and it would be a shame if Liverpool simply cut him loose. I feel that the England international could add variety to the Mersey-siders, definitely more so than Fabio Borini, the Italian who was brought in by Rodgers for £10m last Summer, who is yet another slight, quick striker, only one without the proven goal-scoring record that Andy Carroll possesses. While Carroll has been among the goals fairly regularly at West Ham, scoring five in seventeen appearances for the Hammers, Borini hasn’t scored a league goal since March 2012, in Roma’s victory over rivals Lazio.
I feel that part of Liverpool’s undoing this season has been their predictability. When they don’t play well, they don’t win. Unlike the likes of Manchester United, City and Chelsea, Liverpool don’t have what it takes to grind out an ugly win, and while this is firmly against Rodgers’ beliefs, it’s almost impossible to break into the top four without it. Against sides like West Brom and Southampton, who have nullified the Reds’ passing game in recent victories, I feel that Carroll would be the perfect player to have coming off the bench to bully the opposition’s defense and create space for slighter players like Sturridge or Suarez. If you look at the Liverpool bench at the moment, it is seriously lacking in creativity, with the likes of Ousama Assaidi, Joe Allen or Jonjo Shelvey the most common substitutes used by Rodgers when trying to see a game out.
If Liverpool do part company with Carroll, however, I doubt that Borini would be the third choice striker behind Suarez and Sturridge, even when fit. The Italian simply hasn’t proven himself at all in the Premier League, with his 6 Championship goals under Rodgers’ Swansea side the basis for his signing. If the Englishman was to leave, I feel it would be beneficial to both Borini and the club to bring in another striker, to allow Borini to find his feet while not leaving Liverpool in the cold. Some names being bounced around the rumour mills are those of Wilfred Bony, Hatem Ben Arfa and Jay Rodríguez, all of whom are quality players, but I am still in favour of Carroll being given a second chance to redeem himself to the Anfield faithful (Something he may well do today as Liverpool play host to West Ham).
My opinions aside, there are plenty of reasons for Liverpool to bid farewell to the big centre forward this Summer in the hopes of bringing in some funds ahead of the impending transfer window. While the money they would receive would be at least half of what the splashed out on him in 2011, eleven goals in almost sixty games is simply not enough for a club of Liverpool’s stature. But one only has to look to the current Liverpool squad to find players who were written off following their first season, only to impress eventually. Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing were all ridiculed by Reds’ fans following poor initial performances, but now feature regularly in the starting eleven. With Carroll, it may be that time is all he needs to settle in at Anfield and recapture his scoring form, although as a striker, fans’ patience often wears thin much quicker than it does with midfielders, and yet another disappointing season could see him stranded at Liverpool without any playing time or any outside interest, a fate which the club are clearly looking to avoid by selling him in the Summer.
While I personally am a fan of Andy Carroll and the qualities he brings to the table, I cannot see Brendan Rodgers turning down an offer which meets his asking price, or surpasses it. In which case, I can only hope that interest in him is minimal and that Rodgers is forced to give him one final opportunity next season.