Andy Carroll – Big pressure, Big fee, Big man.

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When Carroll was signed earlier this year, it is fair to say it was a “big” signing, for many reasons.

Firstly, Carroll himself. 6ft 3, and 80kg. You only have to look at him to see his one big lad.

Then there was his transfer fee. A record fee for us at £35million. Eclipsing the transfer of Suarez, which was confirmed not long before.

And finally, who he was replacing. A “world class” striker, who despite his indifferent final 6 months at Anfield, there was no doubt we was losing a player who was special for us on the pitch, and had a great goal scoring record. That of course was Torres.

It is fair to say though, that there was an element of risk with the Carroll signing. Firstly in the short term, he was injured. And he didn’t make his first Liverpool appearance until a month later. A substitute appearance against Manchester United.

Then there was the off the field dramas. Arrests, charges, and alleged training ground bust-ups. Even the England manager Capello has told him to curb his drinking, and concentrate on his football.

With all this came yet more “big”. Big expectation, and big pressure.

We are yet to see the very best of Carroll yet however. And all the pressures have seemed to become even bigger. But lets not forget, we have only seen Carroll turn out for 5 league games so far. And already, many seem to have made their mind up about him.

So with all this big expectation, and big pressure, what can we come to expect from him in this coming season?

Well firstly, we have signed a range of new players, who will certainly help us get the best out of Carroll. The width provided by Enrique and Downing down the left, and Adam’s set piece ability, will allow us to exploit one of Carroll’s best attributes, his heading.

During the first half of the season, Carroll was of course at Newcastle. He was proving to be unplayable, and no more so than against ourselves in December last year. And it is fair to say, the way Newcastle played and set up, allowed them to get the best out of their big number 9. He scored 11 goals in 19 games, as well as provided 3 assists. He was integral to the way they played.

Of his 11 goals, 5 were headers. Without comparing every single striker, I bet there are very few (if any) who achieved double figures (over the whole of last season) who scored such a large percentage of goals with their head. And not only his goals, but 40% of his attempts on goal, were with his head too.

He isn’t bad at converting them either. 20% of his headed attempts at goal, found the back of the net. Pretty impressive really, and shows that if you can give Carroll the service, he can find the back of the net. (For the record, his overall goal/shot conversion was 18%, so it isn’t all just about his head). Another interesting statistic, is that he averaged a headed attempt on goal for Newcastle last season, every 68 minutes.

If you take these figures over a full season, and assuming that he would play every minute of every game (3,420), then that equals 50 headed attempts. Converting 20%, means 10 headed goals in a season alone.

This all clearly shows that Carroll has a great strength, and that is his aerial ability. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of many players who could achieve double figures in headers alone over a season. This means Carroll can be a real weapon in our armory, like very few others.

But a player can’t set himself up for a headed goal. It requires very good service, and excellent delivery. Something at Newcastle he had in abundance. Barton, Nolan, and Enrique all provided service for Carroll’s goals.

In his 5 appearances for us however, Carroll looked frustrated. The delivery wasn’t there consistently enough, and we didn’t have any width to provide quality either. While he did manage to have a headed attempt on goal every 48 minutes, more frequent than at Newcastle, he only scored 1 of them. A 10% conversion. This is only a small catchment of data though remember.

So, if Carroll is having more frequent headed attempts on goal, surely this is a better thing, right? Well, not quiet no. The stats tell you a basic fact, but it can’t define the quality of a delivery. Just pumping balls into the box, then you have a reasonable chance Carroll can win them, and get a header on goal against most defences. Provide quality delivery, and he can escape his marker easier, and improve his chances of scoring.

This is something we really lacked in his 5 appearances. From memory, I do remember many a headed effort from Andy, many of which he fought to win, but failed to threaten to opposition too much, despite winning the header. But how many quality crosses into the box can you remember? I can remember one, and that was his bullet header against Manchester City.

Which brings me nicely onto the new signings again. Charlie Adam, as Ferguson famously claimed, has corners alone worth £10million. Stuart Downing, who last season provided a cross into the box every 10 minutes, seems a perfect fit for a player like Carroll. And even Enrique, a former team mate at Newcastle, averaged a cross every 24 minutes.

As I stated at the start, there is many big things about Carroll. But the most important thing, is he really could become a big asset to ourselves at Liverpool. He isn’t all just about his heading ability, he has much more in his locker than that, but lets not deter away from what is a clear strength.

Against teams where we will struggle to break them down, who will sit back, Carroll will be a extremely useful. He can cause damage, with our wide players stretching the play, and providing quality delivery. This gives us a dimension to our play we have not had in years.

It is fair to say that in his limited appearances for us to date, we have only seen flashes of what Carroll can give us. But a full pre-season under his belt, with 3 goals in 6 games, and the new additions to our team, I am very confident he will become a big player for Liverpool.



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  1. That isn’t quiet what I was getting it, but can’t you see that it is an option we can, should, and will use?

    In his games last season, he was very static, because the only service he was getting was from hoof ball. Or, very poor corners. The only quality delivery I can remember him getting, he scored from. Give him the service, and he will score goals. Simple.

    As for playing like Stoke, do you know our results against them in recent years? 2 wins out of 6. This is the kind of thing (and not just Stoke, but many of the mid/lower league teams), that we haven’t picking up points against. Had we beaten Stoke twice in 2008/2009 (and not drawn) we would have won the league.

    It isn’t about playing like Stoke, it is about playing to your strengths. And while we can out play some teams, we wont every time. And for too long we have been bullied, and without the option to go wide, and deliver a cross, we have found it tough to break down teams.

    Now we have that option, we should use it. Not be ashamed of it.

    • If we’re not looking to outplay every side than we’ve officially become a mid table side. The only other good team that uses a physical striker is Chelsea, and Drogba is another level in class to Carroll.

      Andy Carroll doesn’t have the skill to play pass and move football, so inevitably, players will start hoofing it up to him. This guy has no touch, no ability to dribble a ball and no link up play on the ground. His only strengths are heading the ball and shooting which means he’ll need to be teed up every time.

      I admire your optimism, but Andy Carroll was a panic buy, and because Dalglish paid so much money for him he’s under pressure for him to perform, which he won’t do.

      Would you and others be praising Andy Carroll so highly if he were bought under Roy Hodgson’s tenure? Or is it part of the “Trust King Kenny, no matter what he does” cult?

  2. I get your point for sure, but my hope is that the whole team doesn’t paint a bullseye on his forehead and forget to do anything else besides aim for it. When he was out we saw some beautiful pass and move football. when he came back we hoofed the ball constantly. I hope the cross to Carroll’s head becomes a tool we use, but mixed in with watching Suarez work some fleet-footed magic, Downing deliver beautiful balls to everyone in the box, Adam delivering long-ranged bombs, etc.

    After a full offseason together I think the lads will look great tomorrow.

  3. Thanks for the responses guys. After re-reading the article, maybe I didn’t make it too clear what I was getting at.

    There is often a stigma associated with playing a big guy. But what I suggesting is not hoof ball, hit and hope, and long throws. But neat football, pass an move, working into the wide areas, and delivering quality crosses into the box. The article proved that if we can do that, and real quality crosses, then Carroll will score a bag full.

    Just watch this video. Often talked about as one of the greatest Liverpool performances of all time. The last goal, is regarded as one of the greatest Liverpool “team” goals of all time. And look how it was created, and how it was finished.

    Carroll would score them all day.

  4. Well crafted piece. We need to provide him with the right kind of service and try to get him on the end of moves as opposed to dropping deep into midfield. Aimless hoofs from the back will not work either.

  5. I also think his bullet shots can be a tool we can use too besides his heading. remember his goal against us when he was still in newcastle?? it was a THUNDER!!! yesterday against exeter he also scored what i think was a great goal. just saying.


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