Friday, December 09, 2011 by Paul Grech
It only takes one bad touch for the criticism to start. You know that it's coming as soon as Andy Carroll misplaces a pass or fails to control a ball; the comments that he's not worth the money spent on him, how he's a big mistake, that he's too lazy to try and make it work.
You can even sense some wanting him to fail so that they can tell everyone that they told you so.
There is a lesson about not writing players off prematurely in Lucas Leiva's transformation from Liverpool's fall guy into one of the team's most important players. Yet, judging by the negative feeling towards Carroll, there are quite a few who seem unwilling to heed it.
It is undeniable that so far Carroll hasn't really delivered. Just as there's no arguing that he has struggled to make an impact. But there have also been enough glimpses of his potential to see that there is something quite interesting there. That game last season against Manchester City where Carroll scored twice by itself should be enough to convince just how good he could become.
That is hardly surprising. Carroll has all the characteristics that you could want in a striker: incredible strength, a tremendous shot, virtually unbeatable in the air, the willingness to sacrifice himself for the team and also a good technique.
Yet in his lack of experience he is missing one very important element. Barely eighteen months of first team football - most of which were in the Championship - aren't enough for a player to have developed fully. He still has to learn about his own game as much as anything else.
What has made Carroll's life particularly hard is the £35 million Liverpool paid to get him. Had he joined for even half of that amount, there would be far greater acceptance and willingness to allow him to grow. But instead people look at the size of the fee and decide that for that kind of money Liverpool should be getting a player who is at the peak of his ability.
Yet he isn't. The fee was simply a product of the circumstances that preceded the transfer and not really an evaluation of Carroll's value at that point in time. Liverpool were willing to pay such an inflated amount because they had the cash and wanted to send out a message of their ambition.
But they were also willing to pay it because they believed in Carroll's potential. The trick with potential, however, is that it can be difficult to coax especially when the player is under pressure. Young players will go through rough patches, they will make mistakes and they will struggle. It is all part of the learning process.
That's what's happening to Carroll who has to get used to a team playing in a different manner and with greater expectations then he's been accustomed to. The potential is definitely there but the pressure is eroding his confidence. As he doesn't yet have the maturity to deal with it so the problem keeps getting bigger with every game where he disappoints.
It is a vicious cycle that only Carroll himself can break. Just as Lucas found the inner strength to dig deep and eventually prove his critics wrong, so too must Andy Carroll. With time hopefully he'll manage to do just that so that Liverpool will finally get the player worthy of all that money they paid for him.
Category Andy Carroll