West Ham? AC Milan? Who Cares? Liverpool Just Need To Shift Andy Carroll

He might have restored his reputation with some good work at Euro 2012, but the big fella will never fit in with a tiki-taka approach and should be flogged to the highest bidder...
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He might have restored his reputation with some good work at Euro 2012, but the big fella will never fit in with a tiki-taka approach and should be flogged to the highest bidder...


West Ham and AC Milan have been linked.  Will Liverpool get rid of Andy Carroll?

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Spain’s success at this year’s European Champions served as a timely reminder of just how devastating the tiki-taka style of play can be when it is executed perfectly, and Liverpool fans will no doubt be hoping that Brendan Rodgers can implement the same basic ideals that have worked so well for La Roja at international level. Whilst the Reds don’t have an Iniesta, a Xavi or even an Alonso *breaks down in tears*, they do have a number of players capable of keeping possession and, with a few smart signings this transfer window, there is no reason why the side can’t flourish in this more aesthetically pleasing brand of football. Although it would take a miracle of biblical proportions for them to enjoy a similar level of success that Spain have had over the past four years, they can, at least, lay down the blueprints to work from for the next decade or so.

Rodgers is a keen advocate of the Liverpool way, and has been very clear about his intention to re-establish the principles of pass and move football that the Reds were synonymous for during the 70s and 80s, and that Kenny Dalglish at least attempted to restore last season, whilst incorporating his more innovative, modern methods on to this timeless philosophy. His system is all about retaining possession using a slick passing style, with plenty of movement off the ball to create multiple passing avenues to the player in possession, and pressing high up the pitch when the opposition have the ball. This will be music to most of Liverpool’s players’ ears, with the exception of one man. Whilst Andy Carroll’s technical limitations are often overstated, to say he lacks the ability and sharpness to thrive in that sort of side is not doing him a great disservice; it takes a certain kind of player with a specific skill set to fit in to such a regimented system and, for all his strengths, finesse, mobility and technique are not the three things you most associate with him.

There is no question that Carroll can be extremely effective –even unplayable -if you play a more direct game, but that should not be to the detriment of other players in the side. Liverpool have plenty of technically gifted players who are capable of assimilating themselves in to Rodgers’ new system, and Carroll has not shown enough during his Liverpool career to suggest that he too can adapt. A spell of good form towards the end of last season and a promising showing at the European Champions cannot mask over the general poor level of performances since his move from Newcastle eighteen months ago. With him in the side, there is always the temptation to knock it long, particularly if things are going to plan, and perhaps that is something Rodgers is wary of. Whilst it is always important to have a plan b, for his system to work the players need to be fully invested in to it and believe in what they are working towards; if they just look for the route one pass at the first sign of trouble, the whole thing will be a disaster.

Rodgers is a keen advocate of the Liverpool way, and has been very clear about his intention to re-establish the principles of pass and move football that the Reds were synonymous for during the 70s and 80s

Whilst Rodgers was complimentary of Carroll as a player, he was noncommittal when asked whether the striker was a part of his future plans, fuelling speculation that he would be allowed to leave the club – be it temporarily or permanently – should they sign a suitable replacement. With a fee agreed for Roma’s Fabio Borini, the Reds are close to signing a forward that is a better fit in Rodgers’ tiki-taka system, so whether Carroll is now moved on remains to be seen. West Ham and AC Milan have been linked with loan moves for the Geordie, whilst other reports suggest Fulham are interested in signing him permanently in a part/ex deal, with Clint Dempsey, who has strongly been linked with a move to Liverpool, heading the other way.

On paper, a move to West Ham would be the best fit. Sam Allardyce likes a powerful target man to lead the line, and the more direct style of play would suit Carroll down to the ground (coincidentally, the place where the ball spends the least time for a Big Sam side). Plus, Uncle Kev Nolan could take Andy in again and look after him, like something out of the epic Sky One series ‘Dream Team’.  Thanks to Twitter we all imagine Big Sam as the Don Barker type gaffer, so all we’d need then is Carlton Cole’s drink to get spiked in a nightclub, Karen Brady to get sent to jail for murder, and for Didier Baptiste to finally seal that long anticipated move to Liverpool! (Add your own comparisons in the comments.)

Milan seems the least likely destination of all the clubs mentioned. The Rossoneri are reportedly close to selling Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to PSG for a combined £51m, meaning that not only would they be in the market for a striker, but they also have the finances to complete a permanent move – although initial reports suggest they’re after a loan deal. However, it is difficult to see the Reds allowing Carroll to move to Milan on loan after they decided against signing Alberto Aquilani permanently for the already cut-price of €6m last season. They do have a history of signing British forwards, with Luther Blissett, Joe Jordan and Mark Hateley all having donned the famous red and black shirt, but Carroll gets homesick enough when he only lives over the other side of the country, so it is unfathomable to envisage him moving to Italy.

Liverpool would struggle to reclaim even half of the fee they paid for Carroll should they try and sell him now, so it would be bad business to accept such a huge loss on a player who is still not at his peak

Still, in this instance, if Carroll is indeed not in Rodgers' plans and a permanent move elsewhere is not forthcoming, then a loan move may prove beneficial for both club and player. Liverpool would struggle to reclaim even half of the fee they paid for Carroll should they try and sell him now, so it would be bad business to accept such a huge loss on a player who is still not at his peak. With four years left on his contract, it is unlikely that his value would depreciate any further should he go out on loan as he would be playing regularly, nor would the club be in a rush to sell him at the end of the loan - and if he goes on to have a successful loan spell regaining the form he showed at Newcastle, then Liverpool are in a much stronger position to sell next summer should they so chose. The potential reward outweighs the risk.

Regardless of the eventual outcome of this situation, Liverpool know that a loss will be made when they eventually get rid of Carroll. This is all about damage limitation, and ensuring that the same mistake is never made again. I have no doubt he will go on to be an important player for somebody, just not at Anfield. Sorry, Wor Andy, but it’s time to say Auf Wiedersehen, Pet!

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