Liverpool took a massive £35 million risk when they opted to sign Andy Carroll on transfer deadline day. With a chequered past to say the least, Carroll has the opportunity to become an Anfield legend – or be consigned to the bin marked “expensive flops”.
Tottenham Hotspur certainly thought Carroll was overpriced and baulked when a sum north of £30 million was mentioned. But at such a young age – the Gateshead-born lad is 22 – he can offer a different type of return on Liverpool’s investment and establish himself in the England set-up for some time to come.
For the Andy Carroll Liverpool experiment to work, he must offer a long-term return for his club and country.
Fabio Capello certainly believes Carroll is the man for England in the long run. Earlier in the week he declared Carroll along with Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere as the future for England. But his temperament means and the baggage that comes with him means that off-the-field matters come as part of the parcel with Carroll.
He has a police caution for an assault involving a woman from 2008, and was involved in a nightclub fight in 2009. Before his move to Liverpool he was forced to live with team-mate Kevin Nolan after being accused of assault by a former girlfriend. It is fair to say that Carroll needs to develop both on and off the pitch for Liverpool to able to justify spending such a large sum on him and for England to place their trust in.
But in Kenny Dalglish and Fabio Capello he has the ideal mentors to help develop his career. Capello, known to rule with an iron fist, will not accept any trouble from him. He made an example of John Terry when his off-field antics interfered with his game, while a man who commands as much respect as Dalglish does from the Liverpool faithful will not be likely to put up with ego’s or out of line behaviour.
Carroll can contribute positively to the fortunes and help rebuild both Liverpool and England. He has talent and a presence most other big men in the Premier League lack. His 11 goals this season have marked him out as a striker that has an eye for goal with the ability to hold the ball up well – a rare combination.
He will not give Liverpool three excellent goal-filled season’s like Fernando Torres did, that is not his game. What he can do is bring the play of Liverpool together; to provide a target for Steven Gerrard’s accurate passing and holding up the ball for the marauding Raul Meireles to latch on to. The same applies for England – his ability to link the midfield and attack mean he can be equally as useful as Torres for Liverpool and Rooney for England, but in a different manner.
He will not get a headline grabbing goal tally, but he can prove he is a £35 million player if he performs consistently over a long period. All he has to do is stay out of trouble and do what he does best. He is currently out injured have damaged his thigh after falling off a bar stool drunk. Dalglish and Capello will not see the funny side of this.