Carroll’s Liverpool failure may haunt him forever
It’s a pleasant late-summer diversion in this country to pull up a chair and watch players skip through the transfer window as it swings to and fro in the light August breeze. But the lazy tranquillity of that pastime has been shattered this year by Andy Carroll’s increasingly desperate struggle to squeeze his lanky frame through the narrowing gap. How can we relax when the grip Liverpool have on his ankles looks unlikely to loosen any time soon, and the window is perilously close to slamming shut on his dangling legs? The damage to his career (and our eyesight) could be permanent.
Barely two years ago, Carroll was that rarest and most sought after beast – an England-born player demonstrating genuine promise at a decent level. Indeed, it was the tally of 31 goals in 80 appearances for Newcastle that first attracted the millionaires of Liverpool, who were presumably still drunk and rolling about on a bed covered in the proceeds of Fernando Torres’ transfer to Chelsea when they offered £35m for the striker in January 2011.
Even players with years of experience in football would struggle to carry the burden of expectation a price tag that size brings, let alone a 22-year-old Newcastle boy with a burgeoning reputation for off-pitch indiscipline. Six goals in 42 first team appearances imply he’s felt the strain, but the departure of the architects of the deal, Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish, did nothing to ease the pressure. Carroll represents a moment of financial exuberance Liverpool are now keen to forget, but although they’ve made it perfectly clear they want rid of him, no one seems sure how much they’re prepared to lose to make it happen.
So far in this transfer window, Liverpool are said to have rejected a loan offer from Newcastle, while Carroll himself has reportedly dismissed moves to Fulham, West Ham and Aston Villa. Spurs are apparently considering an offer if they can shift their own unhappy camper, Luka Modric, to Real Madrid, but while their offer is likely to be large enough to be face-saving for Liverpool, will Carroll be any better off? Does it matter?
Well, yes. Just over two months ago, Andy Carroll provided one of the few sparks of light in England’s otherwise dim Euro 2012 campaign. His header against Sweden was a genuinely thrilling moment – a moment that transcended clubs and reputations and, ironically, it was a moment that money couldn’t buy. It is testament to his resilience and natural talent that despite everything, he was still able to do his job, rising above the Swedish defence to head home from Steven Gerrard’s cross.
Even so, it’s hard to feel sorry for a man who picks up a reported £90,000 every week for sitting on the bench while ridiculous sums of money are being offered for his services. But a financial cushion will not protect Andy Carroll from the mental stress of expectation, the speculation of the press and the relentless criticism by fans, many of whom earn less than half of Carroll’s weekly wage in a year. The same people who complain bitterly about the lack of success for the national team.
At the moment, this brave new world of football is intent on testing Carroll’s resilience, stretching it to see how far it will go before it breaks. It’s entertaining enough for us to watch while we’re lazing about in our deckchairs, but it might cost more than we thought in the long term.
Let’s hope Carroll, and the players that follow his lead through that gilded window that promises so much, still have enough energy to play for their clubs and more importantly, their countries, once they make it.
Otherwise we can wave goodbye to moments like Sweden vs England. And that’s too big a price to pay.
For more from Kelly visit kellywelles.com
Follow Kelly on Twitter @Kelly_Welles
Follow Life’s A Pitch on Twitter @BTLifesapitch
Watch Liverpol live on BT Vision:
Liverpool v Man City, 3.30pm, 26 August, Sky Sports 1
Liverpool v Arsenal, 1pm, 2 September, Sky Sports 1
Don’t have BT Vision? Find out how to get it