Andy Carroll may have thought he was finally adjusting to life at Liverpool, ending last season in the sort of form that prompted then manager Kenny Dalglish to bring the big man to Anfield.
No one could argue that Carroll had come anywhere close to justify his £35m price tag, a price that was no fault of his own, but the way in which he put Liverpool into the F.A. Cup final with a last minute header against Everton and terrorised the Chelsea back line in their final home game of the season suggested the once lonely, misfit figure was alive again. Add this to his impressive displays and the towering header at the Euros and it was easy to believe that Carroll had a promising season ahead of him at Liverpool.
However, the only thing lacking was the public confidence of his new manager. Something pretty important, and something that doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon.
Meanwhile Rodgers has brought in another striker in Fabio Borini from Roma, whilst publicly stating his desire to tie down Luis Suarez to a new long-term contract. Actions that will do nothing to calm the sea of speculation surrounding Andy Carroll; and actions that merely strengthen the impression that Rodgers does not regard his £35m forward’s physical style as a compatible piece in his high-tempo, pass and move jigsaw that he wishes to implement at Anfield.
Rodgers said: “Andy’s always going to be linked with clubs, whether he was here or not. I have spoken to him on his holidays and he knows exactly where he stands.” If Liverpool do then “take the hit” as Alan Pardew has said they should, will they be making a mistake?
Rodgers’ Swansea team was praised from all quarters last season for their attractive style of play, with the only criticism being that he lacked a Plan B. A criticism which becomes much more prominent now that he is at a club which does not just expect attractive football but results. There are not many matches where dropping points is deemed as acceptable to the Anfield faithful.
This is where Andy Carroll fits in. We’ve seen snippets of an unplayable striker within a system based on Rodger’s same principles under Dalglish, contrary to popular belief that he has no place in it. We’ve also seen Carroll improve as a player with the ball at his feet with quick control and lay offs becoming a key part of his game in recent months. What is there to suggest that this will not continue, and in any case too, the ability to mix your play up is a great weapon and one that has won numerous points over the years.
However, many Liverpool fans have rightly pointed out potential problems with Carroll’s fitness should he not be playing regularly. Therefore it must be said that to utilise Carroll he must be a consistent name on the team sheet. This is unlikely to be the case under Rodgers. Nonetheless, if Liverpool did sell Carroll, it would have to be for an amount high enough to re-invest in another striker of equal, or higher standard than Carroll because many Liverpool fans were of the opinion that they needed at least one more forward to take into the new season compared to the last.
And even if Rodgers did find a replacement who suited his philosophy, he has now rid himself of a potential Plan B. Liverpool need to evolve into a team that can adapt to different opponents and game situations, as they have become far too rigid and predictable, and in Andy Carroll they have a formidable option, as well as a perfect foil for the livewires that are Luis Suarez and Fabio Borini.
With a tough opening fixture list including the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and United, Rodgers wants to make a fast start, but the way in which Andy Carroll bullied defences towards the end of last season provides meat to the argument that he should still be Liverpool’s number nine come August 18th.