The Andy Carroll Conundrum

Pass and Move is King Kenny’s philosophy, Pass and Move is how Liverpool will play next season, but how does £35million striker Andy Carroll fit into this? Firstly I believe the 22 year old will fit in to Liverpool ’s attack next season, due to no small part because he cost so much money. They will have to make it happen somehow. In any case, Carroll and the pass and move style has been shown to work once this season already. In one of Liverpool ’s best performances of the season, Carroll scored two goals in a 3-0 win over Manchester City . While the Reds went on to record a 5-0 win over Birmingham City and a 5-2 win over Fulham however, Carroll was sidelined with injury, and his integration into a side which had begun to find a fluid attacking style, was prevented from happening.

It was then inevitable then that his reintroduction into the team against Spurs yesterday would be used as the reason as to why the Reds capitulated so badly. Certainly, there is an argument to be had that the selection of Carroll in the starting line up disrupted the rhythm of the side both offensively ad defensively. On the attacking side, Dirk Kuyt had struck up a very good understanding with Luis Suarez , and the pair had been an integral part of Liverpool’s 5 goals victories over Fulham and Birmingham. In addition to this, the absence of a target man had forced others, such as Jamie Carragher, to pass on the floor more often than not and not look for the easy option to Carroll and lose possession of the ball. On the defensive side, Kuyt and Suarez led from the front with their pressing, and with Carroll only half fit, this lack of pressing meant the intensity in our off the ball play was lacking from the team against Spurs yesterday.

These are all reasons to point fingers at Andy Carroll for the display yesterday, but none of them are that conclusive. It is very easy to think that just because he was the only change to the side, he must have been the prime reason why the Reds didn’t play as well. As I have already mentioned however, one of the best performances of the season from the Reds’ point of view came against Manchester City, with Andy Carroll starting and scoring two impressive goals. From my point of view, there were may other factors more important than the disruption caused by an unfit Andy Carroll.

Firstly, the calibre of opposition we were playing was a lot higher than we have become accustomed to in recent weeks. Spurs came out of the blocks yesterday fully motivated and dominated the first 30 minutes of the game. Against Newcastle United especially a couple of weeks ago, the Reds got away with an average display in the first half, one which would have been punished by better opposition. Spurs were that superior opponent and took advantage. Unlike against the aforementioned Man City, where the Reds started like a house on fire, Spurs fully deserved their 1-0 lead at half time.

The big difference between the City and Spurs was not the presence of Andy Carroll , as he started both matches, it was a lack of intensity in the midfield areas. Here’s a useful quote from the match programme from Steven Gerrard:

“In the last four or five games, especially, we have recovered possession in areas where we haven’t in the past. Against Man City goals came from us winning the ball back outside their area.”

In the big games against Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City at home this season, high pressing and high tempo have been the feature of our games in the three wins and a draw; in the defeat to Spurs, this was lacking. Combined with decisions from the referee, the lack of match fitness from Andy Carroll, the lack of performances from players who needed to be at the top of their game, and a great defensive display from King and Dawson, it all contributed to a limp 2-0 defeat.

To answer the question from the opening paragraph, how does Andy Carroll fit in to Liverpool ’s pass and move philosophy? The answer is simple, if he gets the service he needs he will score goals. We don’t need to change our style and hoof the ball to accommodate him. We can pass as sublimely as we have been in recent matches and still use him as a key outlet. Bring in players who both compliment him and the team, and combined with our short passing style, we will have a strong aerial presence and an extra dimension to ensure we are covered for all eventualities when games are tight.

Read more of David’s articles at Live4Liverpool