Andy”s still handy: Dalglish and Pardew back Liverpool”s Carroll to turn it around
From one manager there was a robust defence, from another came a glowing appraisal: it seems not everyone is questioning Andy Carroll right now.
Though the statistics tell a different story, Kenny Dalglish and Alan Pardew left the firm impression that Carroll is a perfect fit for Liverpool and how he has the ability to become most England’s lethal marksman.
More neutral judges would argue otherwise but, as he prepares to take centre stage at Anfield against his former club, the two managers who have worked closest with Carroll during the past 12 months could not be swayed.
Taking time to adapt: Both Kenny Dalglish and Alan Pardew are convinced that Andy Carroll (right) will come good
Dalglish, for starters, shot down the idea that Carroll is suffering from a crisis of confidence or that a record of five goals in 28 appearances is weighing on his mind. Pardew then spoke passionately about how he would whisk the 22-year-old back to St James” Park in a flash, given half a chance.
It may have been a difficult few months for Carroll – his last goal was against West Bromwich on October 29 – and question over whether he can adapt to Liverpool’s style still persists but Dalglish bristled at the notion that his number nine has lost his way.
‘I don’t think self-belief is a problem for Andy and don’t see why it should be,’ he said. ‘The perception (he is struggling to adapt) has never come from anywhere other than someone’s imagination.
‘Every player here wants to play as many games as he can. If he’s not played as many games then I’m sure that will be a point in his Liverpool life. But he’s here, he’s adapted well to the change and we’ll keep working with him.’
On the periphery: Carroll watches Liverpool”s match at Villa Park from the bench before coming on to replace Luis Suarez
Carroll’s longest run of starts this season was three – against Stoke, West Bromwich and Swansea in late October/November – but he is almost certain to begin against Newcastle, given that Luis Suarez is banned.
Dalglish may have been vexed by the line of questioning at Melwood but he did, at least, acknowledge that, just like the rest of his squad, there are areas of Carroll’s game that could be sharpened.
‘It’s not just about one person,’ said Dalglish. ‘Everybody has a responsibility to defend and to score goals. We’ll face up to those responsibilities. Andy has got to get picked, earn the right to be picked and the best way to do that is performances on and off the pitch.
‘But that’s for everyone, not just Andy. Every week there’s questions. This time it’s understandable because he’s playing against Newcastle but I don’t understand the rest of the stuff. Someone has got some furtive imagination about the lifestyle that big Andy leads.
‘He’s come here and gone about his work very well on and off the pitch. He’s adjusted to life at a new club with new philosophies and a new way of playing. There is no-one at our place who couldn’t be doing better, so he’s in the same bracket as anyone else.’
Mixed emotions: Carroll is expected to start against his boyhood club at Anfield
Pardew will undoubtedly have mixed emotions when seeing Carroll again. Though he admits the 35million deal in January made economic sense, he would clearly love to still be working with him every day, not least as he will not be able to sign a striker in January.
‘You never want to lose great players and we never wanted to lose him,’ said Pardew. ‘I would take him back if I had the chance. If the fee wasn”t as high as it was then he would still be here. It was a decision, as a football manager which was a very difficult one for me.
‘I was 60-40 for keeping him but for the finances of the club there was a strong opinion upstairs and they are my employers. We all looked each other in the eye and said it was going to have to happen. He has not really had a run in that Liverpool side and like all strikers he probably needs a run.
‘He is a great lad and a great player. I like Andy and I was disappointed to see him left out of the England squad last time because I think he can be an England player, England”s No 9, but he has to play himself into the squad.
‘He is going through a period of transition really. He is finding his feet, finding that they play slightly different to what we did. But he will find his way.’