Geordie unsure: Rodgers leaves Carroll future in doubt
Andy Carroll’s struggle to prove himself at Anfield is set to continue, after new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers stated that he would be open to sending the striker out on loan.
Carroll’s place in the side has been the subject of much debate since Rodgers’ appointment, as the Northern Irishman’s preferred 4-3-3 system favours a fluid, passing style, rather than the long-ball game that best exploits Carroll’s aerial prowess. While Rodgers has stated that Carroll will be given the chance to impress him, he has also strongly hinted that the towering forward may be plying his trade for another club this season.
AC Milan are rumoured to be interested in a season-long loan, while West Ham have also declared their intention to secure Carroll’s signature. Allardyce’s link with Carroll is an unsurprising one – the former Bolton and Newcastle boss has made liberal use of muscular target men across his managerial career – and if Rodgers is willing to comply, then Carroll would seriously bolster the newly-promoted outfit.
Carroll has endured a frustrating first eighteen months at Liverpool, and weighed down by his £35 million price tag, has struggled for form and goals.
However, Rodgers will have his work cut out if he intends to clear the deadwood lingering from Dalglish’s reign. Charlie Adam made little impression before sustaining a knee injury, and the failures of Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson were well documented. Of a long list of disappointing signings, Carroll was arguably the only one to retain any dignity from last year’s dismal campaign.
There are, though, players already at Anfield capable of implementing Rodgers’ ambitious footballing philosophy. England skipper Steven Gerrard is still a world-class midfielder, and was arguably at his peak when playing the fast-paced, attacking football that, under Rafael Benitez, saw Liverpool brush aside the likes of AC Milan and Real Madrid.
The return of Lucas Leiva must also encourage Rodgers. The tricky midfielder was Liverpool’s best player over the first half of last season, but saw his campaign cut short by injury. He will surely figure in Rodgers’ plans come the start of the 2012-2013 season.
Rodgers will also have the option of recalling Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani from their respective loan spells at Lille and AC Milan. Cole thrived in a Mourinho-led 4-3-3 system at Chelsea, and Aquilani possesses the deft touch and playmaking style that is likely to excite the former Swansea boss. It would signal intent were Rodgers to call upon the duo who were so consistently overlooked by Dalglish.
But does all this mean that there is no place for Andy Carroll at Liverpool? While he has at no point justified his lofty transfer fee, his form at the back-end of last season was genuinely promising. A late goal against Blackburn was followed by an eighty-seventh minute winner against Everton in the FA Cup semi-final, as Carroll began to resemble the player that so impressed at Newcastle.
Carroll’s performance against Chelsea in the resultant Wembley final was without doubt his finest moment in a Liverpool jersey. The Chelsea defence that kept Barcelona and Bayern Munich at bay were unable to contain him, and Roy Hodgson’s decision to include Carroll in the England squad was at least partially informed by this showing. A powerful header against Sweden in England’s second group game left no one doubting his potential, and it appeared as if Carroll was ready to take the Premiership by storm.
But Rodgers may scupper these plans. Fabio Borini, the talented Roma striker, is much more in the Rodgers mould, and if the rumoured £11 million deal goes through, then Carroll may be on his way.
He must hope that his pre-season form is strong enough to make Rodgers reconsider. Danny Graham shone in Rodgers’ Swansea side despite a relative lack of mobility, and Carroll is arguably a more gifted footballer than the former Watford man. Only time will tell if Rodgers agrees.
However, if Carroll is let go, it will represent a ruthlessness that will surely strike fear into the many other Dalglish flops, who will feel that they could be the next victims of the Rodgers revamp.