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What should Liverpool do about Carroll?

It may be the wrong time to bring this up, what with Liverpool sitting proudly in third spot and all, but there is a fly in the Anfield ointment.

For whilst it is easy to sit back and admire the work Kenny Dalglish has carried out in repairing the damage done in the latter stages of Rafael Benitez‘s reign, there is still one big question mark hanging over the club. What to do about Andy Carroll?

Liverpool without Carroll are a free flowing unit with Luis Suarez enjoying plenty of room to exploit defences. Stewart Downing causes problems with his movement coming in from the left touchline whilst Charlie Adam is picking out the space Suarez revels in, as well as the marauding charges of Jose Enrique, with a passing range as precise as an engravers hand.

The Reds batted away the challenge of an uncompromising Bolton side in their last outing using a brand of quick-witted football not witnessed at Anfield for far too long. But the problem’s stock up when you throw Carroll back into the mix. His presence stops Liverpool doing all the things for which I applaud them.

His size encourages players to go from back to front quickly. Aiming at his head is the simple and best option when he is on the pitch. But once you start doing that Adam is cut out of the game. Straight away Suarez is making different runs hoping for knockdowns rather than looking at space between centre-defenders and full-backs. Downing becomes tied to his wing, set on a mission to deliver crosses for Carroll to feed off.

That fast flowing football turns into to turgid hit and hope. It’s easier to defend against as well, opponents know where the ball is going because Liverpool’s play becomes one dimensional.

So what does Dalglish do? The right minded amongst you will say he has to leave Carroll on the bench. Fine if the big lad only cost a couple of million but Liverpool paid an astonishing £35m for him. That hefty price tag must be giving Dalglish headaches. His bosses over in America are likely to be sending him daily emails asking exactly why they were asked to sanction such a crazy deal. How did Liverpool end up with a player that is unlikely to ever be moved on for a profit despite being in the infancy of his career.

It was a mad moment when the Anfield money men agreed to the deal and now it’s albatross hanging around Dalglish’s neck. Does he push Carroll back in, to the detriment of the team? Or does he suffer the embarrassment of leaving a man he asked the board to push the boat out for whilst his side set sail for a Champions League spot.

Having watched Suarez and Dirk Kuyt put in such an accomplished performance against Bolton there is little choice other than leaving him behind. Carroll’s glaringly misjudged arrival aside, Dalglish has done well with his owners’ money.
And no deal looks better than the £9m purchase of midfielder Charlie Adam. Having watched the Scot play for Blackpool in the Championship and Premier League I was convinced he would find Liverpool a step too far. In Ian Holloway’s team he was the jewel in the crown. The player everyone made excuses for while he paraded his passing skills and tried to showboat his way into a top club. They ignored his point blank refusal to track back, his arrogant way of passing on runners to his already overloaded defenders, his desire to find the Hollywood pass rather than the more effective shunt sideways to a better placed team-mate. These factors left me shouting from the rooftops that his time at Liverpool would be drenched in failure. I was wrong. Adam has already achieved the highest praise he could hope for, with him in the team Steve Gerrard‘s absence is not being felt. Sadly, neither is Carroll’s.

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