Liverpool's Andy Carroll has had me thinking, not just since Fabio Capello's criticism of him, but ever since he signed for the club that I love. In most cases, this quiet internal reflection on our Geordie goliath has been interrupted by a series of taxi drivers, pub bores and close friends, half laughing and half crying down my ear... "Eyyy, what about that Andy Carroll eh?"
Conversation #1 - The Evertonian Taxi Driver
It was pissing down, and I had just sat through 90 minutes of England vs Wales without touching a drop of alcohol, I couldn't be picky about getting home. My arse hadn't touched the seat before I realised the sheer idiocy of my 'this one'll do' attitude. I clocked the Everton sticker in the window, tried to look busy on my phone and buried my face in my scarf.
"D'yer watch that England there?", came the muffled voice through the window. "Yeah, I'm not really that bothered about them to be honest" I replied, (This is the truth) "Yeah, I know me, neither. But..." Why is there always a "but"? "What about that Andy Carroll eh?"
This was of course "that Andy Carroll" who had got less than five minutes in a damp squib of a game where nobody really impressed. To this man in the taxi though, "that Andy Carroll" was the devil incarnate, "a waste of space" and Liverpool "could have gone out and bought that lad from Baaaarcelona for that much dough." I assume he meant Lionel Messi, but didn't bother asking. I nodded politely, attempted to steer the conversation onto the weather, Andy Van der Meyde and politics, all to no avail.
His conclusion: "Andy Carroll is craaaaaap." He liked his vowels.
My Conclusion: Walking in the rain isn't that bad.
Liverpool "could have gone out and bought that lad from Baaaarcelona for that much dough." I assume he meant Lionel Messi, but didn't bother asking.
Conversation #2 - Public Transport Kopite
I'm sure it wasn't that I was reading BossMag, he was too old and clueless to be aware of that, but he knew I was a Liverpool fan somehow. Despite my best 'sit there and I'll murder you' eyes he perched himself exactly opposite me on one of Merseyrail's finest purple seats.
"What d'yer reckon of that at the weekend?", he laughed. "That at the weekend" was a confident and inspiring Liverpool performance which had dismantled a weakened, frustrating Arsenal side and had come away from The Emirates 2-0 victors.
"Positive wasn't it?", I murmured, praying he wouldn't respond. He did... at length.
We agreed on one point, Luis Suarez is definitely better than "that lad we sold to Chelsea", but other than that me and my annoying companion struggled to find common ground. Eternal scapegoats Lucas Leiva and Jay Spearing came under his particular brand of constructive criticism, both are 'not Liverpool players', apparently. We moved swiftly over Rafa's transfer policy, as I dismissed his qualms with a grimace and a stare out of the window and then finally, finally we came to Andy Carroll.
I had two stops to endure, in which I didn't manage to get more than two words out. My elderly travel buddy compared Carroll to Duncan Ferguson, lauded his height but also suggested he was "a bit of a donkey", who was more suited to "Stoke or someone like that." He confused me further by praising his nationality, it was good that he was English, apparently place of birth counted for a lot in his skewed vision of modern football. Finally as the train pulled into the station, the old favourite leaked out, "it was a lot of money we paid for him...", I nodded, departed the train and promised myself that I would save enough money to buy a car.
His Conclusion: Andy Carroll is tall and English
My Conclusion: Making eye contact is bad for the soul.
It was good that he was English, apparently place of birth counted for a lot in his skewed vision of modern football.
Conversation #3 - The Pub Bore/ Neutral
"I'm not bothered me mate" lied the Bolton fan. We were ten minutes in, I was holding my own, retaining my composure and racking my brains for Bolton players who were even slightly memorable. I'd used Nicholas Anelka and Kevin Nolan, if this conversation was to go any further I'd have to dig out Dean Holdsworth and possibly even mention Jason McAteer.
This particular gentleman believed Andy Carroll was a good footballer, he admitted that he would love him in Bolton's line up and even suggested he should be partnering Wayne Rooney in England's attack.
What a p***k he is! He's such a d******d that if he walked in here now, he would knock him out, straight on his ponytail. This Lancastrian hated footballers like Carroll and how they spent fans' hard earned money on being idiots.
Suddenly, it came to me. I knew what Bolton Wanderers needed... they needed El Hadji Diouf back. Our conversation soon ended.
His Conclusion: Andy Carroll is a 'reet bas***d'
My Conclusion: He might be a 'reet bas***d', but he's our 'reet bas***d'.
Conversation #4 - Match-Going Red
That rarest of breeds. After my fortnight of hell I fell into this conversation with a good friend of mine, we discussed all sorts of matters affecting Liverpool Football Club, transfers in, transfers out, Craig Bellamy's lack of neck and how Sebastian Coates is, and I quote, "an absolute grock."
It was turning into a pleasant afternoon until, in the blink of an eye, the news channel blaring out of the nearest television exhibited Fabio Capello's sulky gob. As we turned and surveyed the Italian's intricate labyrinth of wrinkles and down-turned jowls, the same thought struck both of us and we shook our head. What came next was the sweetest relief of the season so far, we just laughed.
There was no discussion of Andy Carroll's drinking habits, of his 'ability in the air' or his 'complicated home life', we just laughed, safe in the knowledge that if Fabio Capello doesn't like Andy Carroll's habits, then maybe he'll stop picking him for England. Maybe we won't have to hold our breath as he gets elbowed in the ribs and has his eyes gouged by Eastern Europe's finest centre backs in a cavalcade of pointless international friendlies over the next few seasons. Cause however much we spent on him, and however many goals he scores, if he's good enough for Kenny Dalglish, no amount of whiney armchair pundits are going to turn us against him.
Our Conclusion: If we ever bump into Andy Carroll in town, the first round is on us.
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