By Riley Beveridge
Legendary commentator Martin Tyler may have hit the nail on the head on Saturday afternoon, when he stated the final 30 minutes of the FA Cup Final may have been “the making of Andy Carroll”.
The Reds went on to lose to Chelsea, yet Carroll’s half an hour off the bench was definitely a positive Kenny Dalglish and millions of Liverpool fans around the globe could have taken away from the match.
There’s no doubting Carroll has struggled since his 35 million pound move from Newcastle in January 2011. Prior to Saturday’s Cup Final, the big number nine had scored just 10 times in 53 appearance (20 of which had come from the bench). At times he’d looked lost up front, failing to find the form he’d hit at St James’ Park, where he’d scored 33 goals in 89 games since debuting as a 17-year-old.
Yet on Saturday it was like a switch had been hit on Carroll, as he showed the fierce determination and commitment we all knew he had, and we’d all been waiting to see.
He was combative in his role, winning every aerial duel, being just as solid at ground level, taking an opponent off strike partner Luis Suarez and bringing midfielders like Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson into the game with knock downs and smart hold up play.
He made John Terry look a fool when he scored, tricking England’s “finest” defender with a nice step over before hammering the ball past Petr Cech. He then bobbed up minutes later to almost score again, only to be denied by an amazing Cech save and a stroke of bold officiating from the assistant referee.
Andy Carroll’s arrival into the game on Saturday definitely changed the game. It swung it in Liverpool’s favour, and almost rescued the Cup for the Reds.
It may be a big call, but I’m willing to state that it may have even been the most influential 30 minutes from an individual in a Reds shirt all season.
Tonight’s Premier League clash with Chelsea will give Carroll another opportunity to show he’s well and truly come of age as a Liverpool player. After not starting on Saturday, Carroll will no doubt begin tonight’s encounter in the side.
For Liverpool fans, Carroll’s performance tonight could offer a further taste of hope and positivity for the future to end what has been a bleak season at Anfield.