A perpetual love for alcohol, armed with luscious locks of black glossy hair, and a stature to make centre-backs quake in their boots. A header so powerful that it could break a ‘keeper’s hand. A left-peg so almighty that one clean strike could rip the net wide open. Some refer to him as a horse. Others call him a tank. It’s the 6’ 3″ behemoth of a man, Andy Carroll.
Big AC, as some like to call him, never made the grade at Merseyside, but it wasn’t all his wrongdoing. Kenny Dalglish made his of first of many mistakes when impulse-buying the 24-year old in the eleventh-hour on Transfer Deadline Day January 2011, after having let go of the now abysmal Spaniard Fernando Torres hours prior to the signing of Carroll. Let’s face the facts. £35 million for a player who had only just been promoted to England’s top-flight 6 months previous was always going to be a difficult price-tag to justify, and it came as no great shock when he was performing well below the pedigree of a Liverpool player. Some players can shake off the effects of having a huge price tag on their shoulders, and prove their worth. Others just implode or capitulate, failing to live up to their former club’s asking evaluation of the player. The latter unfortunately proved to be the case for Andy Carroll.
One fateful night for the big man against reigning Premier League champions Manchester City was not enough to catapult him to stardom for long at Anfield. After scoring 2 top-notch goals for the Reds in this fixture, Carroll surely enough lost this form and began to pick up numerous injuries, spurning bagfuls of chances along the way. Dalglish admitted that he had risked playing Carroll too prematurely in his Merseyside career, as he was still recovering from an injury at the time of signing for Liverpool. Although the striker may have put in a few good shifts for Liverpool, he was bought for one reason. To score goals. Unfortunately, he never managed to consistently put the ball between the sticks. But what Carroll may lack for in finishing, he makes up for in aerial ability. Former Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan stated that Carroll was in the ‘top 3 best headers of the ball’ he’d seen in the Premier League.
When Newcastle were relegated to the Npower Championship in 2009, Carroll was given his chance to step up to the mark. He endured a particularly fruitful couple of seasons at Tyneside, scoring 17 goals in 38 appearances while plying his trade in England’s 2nd tier. These goals came in the 2009/2010 campaign, and were pivotal in Newcastle’s promotion to the Barclays Premier League. Upon his arrival to the big league in the season of 2010/2011, he proved to the Geordie’s driving force as they fought to stay in the league they’d just been promoted to. 11 goals in 19 appearances meant that Carroll was being observed by many top clubs. On January 31 2011, after long negotiations, Liverpool took the beer-hankering talisman off the Tyneside club’s hands for a laughable sum of money.
Carroll’s robustness and durability does not go unnoticed, but they are not the most desirable traits that managers would look for in strikers nowadays. Big Andy is referred to commonly by pundits as an ‘old-fashioned, classic centre-forward’ . What many onlookers are unaware of is his ability to bring the ball down in the air and link up play, or to subtly knock the ball by defenders with his sublime heading ability.
After moving to Upton Park on loan last summer, Carroll was leaving the Anfield faithful with a select few fond memories, but there were two in particular that almost made him a hero for the Reds. With only 6 goals from 44 league appearances, Carroll’s Premier League days at Liverpool were nothing to write home about, but his exploits in the cup campaigns for Liverpool proved to be much more fructiferous. An 87th minute trademark header against local rivals Everton in the FA Cup semi-final got the leviathan some amount of recognition from his fans. A virtuoso display in the final of this tournament meant that Carroll almost single-handedly put a damper on Chelsea’s day of glory, scoring a goal in the process and also marginally missing with a powerful headed effort. Carroll put in an admirable shift in his first game for the Hammers this season, indirectly setting up Kevin Nolan for the first goal of the game. He has only managed to claim one goal for the London side, but his performances have arguably merited more than just the one, solitary goal.
It is no secret that Carroll is a big advocate of the booze, and many are under the influence that he may have numbered his best days of his career after over-indulging and becoming too attached to partying and alcohol. Controversies follow the attacker wherever he may go on his nights out, and West Ham’s Christmas party in Dublin of this year proved to be no exception for the big man. He reportedly gouged the eye of a nosey photographer after he was seen wandering the streets of Dublin after hours without his leg brace as he was injured at the time. But Carroll has stated that he recently ditched his party-laden life in favour of a more relaxed one. Or so he says. Alcohol has ruined, or at least overshadowed, the careers of many top sportsmen, and hopefully Carroll will not join that ever-growing list.
Carroll is still currently contracted by Liverpool, although it is unlikely Brendan Rodgers will find space for the front-man is his squad, thanks to the signing of Daniel Sturridge, and also the re-emergence of Italian youngster Fabio Borini into the Merseyside outfit. Rodgers feels that Carroll is too unorthodox a striker to fit into his demanding, laborious Tiki-Taka system, which demands players with exceptional ball skills, not a traditional number 9. If West Ham manage to stay up this season, they have the option of buying the striker for £17 million. A fee Liverpool will kindly accept, considering they will find it particularly strenuous to seek another suitor for the Englishman’s services.