To say it’s been a year of transition for Andy Carroll would be quite the understatement. Carroll struggled to make any kind of impact or find consistency throughout most of last season and at times he looked like the proverbial cart-horse. The £35m fee paid for him was way over the top and is one of the main reasons for Damien Comolli‘s departure and cast doubt over Dalglish‘s ability to identify quality players at a decent price. During last January’s transfer window there would have been few who would have questioned Carroll being sold although the financial loss would have been too horrendous to contemplate. Carroll simply looked slow, ineffective and, from Dalglish’s point-of view, unplayable.
But over the last few months Carroll has been transformed. His form, touch and scoring ability, especially during the FA Cup final, have shown what an excellent signing he is turning out to be. He single-handedly changed the game against Chelsea and almost delivered the Cup. England supporters who made an outcry and ridiculed his inclusion in the Euro squad have been completely silenced with his performance against Sweden with him scoring probably one of the finest England headers in decades. The slow-motion replay’s illustrated dramatically the power and technique he used to bullet the ball past the helpless Swedish goalkeeper. To me Hodgson made a mistake leaving him out of the starting line-up against the Ukraine but once Carroll came on the field he once again proved his worth. Carroll is now holding his own against any of the strikers at the Euros and he’s scaring opposition defences many who consider him unplayable.
One of the key elements of Carroll’s contributions, even when he was struggling, that is severely overlooked at Liverpool and now England is his tireless work ethic in defence. “That kind of work tends to go unnoticed because ultimately a striker lives or dies by his goals, but from a manager’s point of view it is incredibly important” Jamie Carragher recently wrote.”Now Andy is adding that essential ingredient of goals too”.
So what’s changed that makes Carroll a consistent impact player versus the guy who struggled to so badly only a few months ago? “The change in him now to a few months ago is self-evident. I’d sum it up in one word. Mobility” says Carragher. “Since he’s become fitter, his movement has increased, his aerial presence has intensified and his balance is better, which is impacting on his shooting ability. Piece this together and you have a confident beast up front who, at times, looks unplayable. When Andy was struggling for fitness, he was too static. Now we’re seeing him timing his runs and leaping to get power on his headers, as he did for the first goal against the Swedes. He will justifiably argue he has not always received that kind of service”.
Dalglish too feels strongly about Carroll’s ability “Whatever anybody else said, he was always going to come through as a player. His attitude and his determination when he played for me at Liverpool were there for everyone to see.”
With Carroll now stronger and fitter, with his ability to hold and effectively distribute the ball constantly improving, along with the critical fact he’s now scoring goals makes his future at Liverpool look really good. Carroll has gone from being unplayable due to his inability to impact a game to unplayable for any defence he comes up against. It’s almost like having a new player in the Liverpool squad. What now has to be seen is how Brendan Rogers will incorporate him into his new look team.