Wednesday Feb 8  Posted by: Peter Higgins  32 Comments »

What’s the score with Andy Carroll?

There’s no doubt that we over paid for Carroll. Even his most ardent supporters would have to concede that. Eighteen months in Newcastle’s first team, only six of them in the Premiership, just didn’t deserve such a big price tag. Some people say money shouldn’t come into it, but sadly it does. When a player is bought for £35m, people expect instant results. Not potential. Unfortunately, I think Andy Carroll has struggled to live with that burden on his shoulders. Every game he plays, there is pressure on him. The media hype the situation up. Even Liverpool’s own website leads with headlines such as ‘Carroll starts’ on match days. This wouldn’t happen if we had paid say, £10m for him.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m very much of the opinion that modern day players should cope with the pressure. They are paid wages that are beyond the dreams of most people. They become instant millionaires and enjoy all the benefits their wealth brings with it, so they should handle the media attention. But it’s not Carroll’s fault that the club decided to splash so much money on him.

Personally I don’t think Liverpool should have bought him. I especially don’t think they should have paid anywhere near what they did. I’ve heard people say the club had no choice but to buy Carroll as they needed to appease the fans because of Torres’s departure. Apparently it was a statement of intent by the owners. They wanted to prove to fans that, unlike Hicks and Gillett, they were going to invest in the team. Well fair play but there were a few alternative ways of doing this during the January transfer window. They could have bought players in other positions, such as quality wingers. They could have bought a different striker, one who was proven. Or they could have refused to sell Torres until the summer. I hate comparing us to Manchester United but Ferguson sells players when it’s right for him and the club. Cristiano Ronaldo for example. I know Torres wasn’t playing well, but had we told him he could go if he wanted to in the summer and played him with Suarez for the last five months of the season he may have come good. Let’s not forget, Carroll was injured for most of his time with us last season anyway. Replacing Torres in the summer would have allowed us to take our time and buy the right player without being held to ransom.

Of course, this is easy to say in hindsight. I’m not having a go at the owners. I like them. I think they have a genuine vision of how they want to run the club. They are hungry for success. And they have proven track record of being successful. I just think they made a panic buy and it hasn’t paid off. In my opinion, Carroll isn’t worth £35m and he never will be, even if he starts scoring. But I believe there’s a difference between supporters and fans. And I believe we should be supporters.

I think Carroll’s performances in his last few games have been much better. He has a better goal to game ratio since he came to us than Torres has at Chelsea. He got an assist in the game against Manchester City, another in the one against United and he scored at Wolves. And although he missed a glorious chance to score against Tottenham, was his overall performance bad? I thought he finally showed that he can control a ball and was constantly putting the Tottenham defence under pressure. He was also unlucky not to score when he turned sharply in the box but was unfortunate to slip.

Andy Carroll will probably leave in the next transfer window. And based on his performances so far he should. He doesn’t look good enough for Liverpool. But I don’t think the club can afford to take a big financial hit on him. I know we got £50m for Torres but if we sell Carroll on the cheap then whatever way you look at it, we will have wasted that money. Unfortunately that has been the case for years. We let McManaman join Real Madrid for nothing a year after Barcelona had bid £12m for him. We let Owen go for £8m plus Nunez because we allowed him to run down his contract. And we sold Robbie Keane back to spurs for £12m six months after paying them £20m. A club is never going to thrive if it continues to lose money like that.

I’m just curious as to whether the majority of Liverpool supporters have already written Carroll off completely. I mean, if you were Kenny, would you sell him, even if we only get £15m for him? Would you really be prepared to lose £20m on him? Do you think he should be on the bench? Is his lack of form down to the fact that Downing hasn’t been putting quality balls into the box and until recently Gerrard was injured? Or do you think he deserves his place in the team ahead of other players who also haven’t performed great this season?