A faux pas by Brendan Rodgers?

Andy Carroll, Liverpool striker

It’s a shame last season ended when it did. No, I’m not about to poor my heart out about how much I miss football; but Andy Carroll really seemed to be stepping up after a long, long, long time. It’s also necessary to remind myself that the striker’s horrible form started in January last year, not the summer. The Euros with England, while initially looking good, probably wasn’t all that great for Carroll; he was on a high and needed to keep that momentum—or at least avoid a serious knock-back. But with Brendan Rodgers setting up camp at Anfield this summer, it looks as though the £35 million striker—which is still a struggle to write—could be on his way out.

From first glances, it looks like the right idea. Lets move away from the colossal fee that Liverpool parted with to land the striker, because he simply doesn’t fit in with the style Rodgers is likely to implement at his new club. Carroll might have been touted as something of a good footballer when he was at Newcastle and making a name for himself in the Premier League. However, we’ve nothing of late to suggest that he’s capable of being a success with Rodgers in the dugout.

The football we saw from Swansea last season was excellent ball retention, with the team moving the ball along the ground and forcing their way up the pitch. In contrast, Carroll is, well, a bit clunky and maybe a little clumsy. He doesn’t have the first touch to excel in a fast and decisive attack, and Rodgers is unlikely to alter his playing philosophy to get the best out of the big man up front.

Despite the players Rodgers has had over the years that might resemble Carroll and his strengths on the pitch, the new manager was brought in to implement a style of football that is more in keeping with what Swansea displayed for large parts of last season. Where does Andy Carroll come into play?

The counterargument (because there is always one) is that Carroll may finally have landed the manager that will get the best out of him. Carroll is young and has plenty of room to adapt his game and even become an asset to his club. Carroll evidently started to show some form towards the end of the season, and at this stage, why get rid of the striker when he’s starting to show signs of progress? The big plus is that he does give Liverpool another option up front should they decide to hoof it long. Not that I want to compare Liverpool to Barcelona, but the Catalans gave enough evidence last season that their plan A doesn’t always work.

Moreover, how do Liverpool part with Carroll now and face that huge loss on the transfer fee they paid for him? He might not be worth £35 million (again, a struggle) and he probably will never grow into a striker that warrants that kind of money. But the club have paid for him and, from a financial point of view, have to stick with what they have.

There’s also got to be a real level of curiosity to see exactly what Rodgers can get out of Carroll. A new manager, a new set of ideas; why give up before they’ve even got going? Sure, Liverpool could stand to lose out on European football next season, but with or without Carroll, would they really be that much closer? If the answer is yes and it’s based on Rodgers’ arrival, then why can’t Carroll dramatically improve his game?

The striker gave a good account of himself over a small number of games last season and this summer, but if the club really want to get rid and cut their losses, at least wait until next season. There’s no harm in keeping Carroll, and again, there’s a possibly that he could become an integral part of a new manager’s setup.

Next year may be the right time to move on, and January 2011 was definitely the right time to move on, as Newcastle named their price of about £20 million too much. But for Liverpool to cut their losses this season would be a big mistake. Unfortunately, it does appear to be inevitable.

 


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