Let’s face it Andy Carroll never asked to be bought for £35m but that price tag has weighed heavily on him and seems to have been a major factor in his poor performances this season according to those close to him. With such a large transfer fee hanging over his head, thanks to Liverpool’s ex-employee Damien Comolli, Carroll was on a hiding-to-nothing when he was signed in January 2011. Kenny’s philosophy of “buy young, buy British” was the order of day and Carroll was seen to fit that bill perfectly, seemingly at any price. Everyone, including Carroll himself, knew we’d paid too much for him and the expectations were too high with only an immediate impact and hatful of goals were going to keep the critics at bay.
As we all know, Carroll failed to impress in his first 12 months with only the occasional encouraging outing. Serious questions were asked about his true ability, was it a one-off season at Newcastle?, culminating in speculation he may even be traded during the January transfer window. If that had happened not many would have protested. Mind you Kenny has not helped Carroll’s cause with him never truly being given the opportunity to settle or create a partnership with Suarez. He’d be brought on as a substitute often when Downing was being taken off leaving no one on the field to provide those all important crosses he needed to have an impact. Only when Gerrard returned from his long injury did we start to see evidence of Carroll’s promise when quality balls were sent into the box.
But now Carroll is starting to show what a fighter and striker he really is. It’s taken over a year but it’s starting to look like Carroll has shrugged off the criticism and his confidence is rising to the point he’s looking like the striker we all hoped he’d turn out to be. He looks fitter, according to Brad Jones he’s been putting in extra training, he’s quicker, his touches and control more assured and! most importantly, he’s starting to score goals and winning one’s at that. With two critical strikes within a week against Blackburn and the cracker against Everton on Saturday Carragher was moved enough to classify that latter as worth thee $35m on it own. A bit of an exaggeration but we got the point. Worryingly, before his 87th minute strike at Wembley, he looked like the Andy of old when he missed a sitter at the near post but to his credit he kept on battling and got his reward even though Fellini was attempting to mug him in the process.
Critically a striker needs to play on a regular basis in order to develop and maintain their confidence and eye for goal so let’s hope Kenny keeps faith with Andy for the rest of the season and have him even sharper for the FA Cup final on May 5th. There’s a long way to go before anyone can say Carroll is now showing his true potential on a consistent basis but we’re now beginning to see a player no defender can look forward to facing and a true strike partnership being developed with Suarez.