Putting on my Liverpool kit circa 2008 I am reminded of the roller-coaster ride of a season that saw us secure the second spot just 4 points behind Manchester United. That and the fact I haven't washed it for some time, but I digress. The ritualistic activity of wearing this kit as I sit down to write about the club I love, seems to percolate my creative juices even more, necessary when coping with a week of International play.
Liverpool face a Stoke City fresh with new talent after a successful transfer window this coming weekend. For the upcoming match I wouldn't expect to see any real changes to the line-up that tormented Bolton on the final weekend of August. Suarez will most likely start up top supported by Dirk Kuyt, forcing Andy Carroll to sit, due to his lack of form. Just this last week international manage Fabio Capello has called out the 35 Million pound striker for his drinking habits and off field antics. Saying " He needs to be careful because he's an important player for England and Liverpool, If he wants to be a good player and a good sportsman, he needs to drink less than the others." A move of intent from the often soft England manager, made a statement by not selecting him at all for their recent game against Bulgaria. In all honesty Carroll does not warrant a place on the England bench as he has been less than mediocre when vying on the Anfield pitch, so the inclusion in the squad ageist Wales was a surprise to me. Oh but it's all good because JT has come out to praise struggling Carroll, saying " I've been there, and have made my mistakes." The model professional that is John Terry recognizes the difficulty that some one at Carroll's tender age has in focusing on his job, with all the perks of being a professional footballer. I say Grow-Up. Earn your price tag Andy! When bought for that amount you owe it to your club to train hard and devote yourself entirely. If he can't cope with the distractions of being a professional footballer, dislodging his head from his shoulders, then he deserves his place on the bench. As a fan I remain unconvinced and wait to see him prove his worth.
As Carroll struggles to fit into the renaissance happening under King Kenny, fellow new-boy Stewart Downing has been a stroke of inventiveness on the wing, shining In England's match against Wales yesterday, setting up Ashley Young's 35th minute goal. Carroll must seek guidance from fellow England International and level his head. I want to bring up a few of Carroll's potential high and low lights in the Red of Liverpool. so in his best interest I will rely on the solid bedrock of the old Pros and Cons. This segment will be known as SpotKick's "Carroll" - oscopy:
Strong build and height adds a powerful presence up-top, allowing for surrounding players to run on to knock downs and head-ons. Theoretically Carroll should be a huge target for Reina's cosmic kicks, but this has yet to be successful.
Aggression: simply fearless in the box, making more than 50% of headers his when present, body checks and an unbridled desire to win.
Powerful left foot shot shown in his debut v. Man City last year thundering one past Joe Hart in Liverpools convincing win.
He's young. Really a pro and a con. A Pro for the massive promise for club and country, with plenty room to get even better. A Con in all the things that come with youth. Drinking, partying, not focusing on fitness…you name it.
When Carroll is on the pitch he changes the way that Liverpool play, which is something you hope of any player, but in the case of Carroll it's for the worse. Being a target man, he dosent really fit into the fluid-tivity of Liverpool's attack headed by Suarez. Everyone is moving with Downing swapping wings with Henderson or Kuyt, Carroll's position tends to get lost in the middle.
Liverpool tend to play long ball when Carroll is playing, which is not in their nature and in what I have seen doesn't work well at all.
Kuyt has looked fantastic linking up with Suarez, so the addition of Carroll pushes Kuyt out to the wing, restricting this link up. A player with the engine of the Dutch workhorse can motor all over the place so he will not get lost, but the link up Suarez and Carroll is yet to be determined.
Along with my last point the combination of Big man, Small man has been a tried and true formula for success from Di Stefano and Puskas to the most apparent Ian Rush and Kenny Dalgleish in the 1980's. This clear link should not build a false sense of hope for Liverpool fans, for the Suarez- Carroll partnership is promising but to bet your house on it mirroring the fore-mentioned ones would be unwise.
Carroll has been struggling with fitness so there is a bit of ambiguity in assessing his impact, but It just seems that the team is much more creative with Suarez as the focal point in attack.
Continuing to look froward in the business sense Liverpool's director of football Damien Comolli has been mustering up a deal with Uruguayan side Nacional, after recognizing the talent abundant in Uruguay. In my last Liver n' Onions post I addressed the signing of defender Sebastian Coates from Nacional, the first example of this deal in action so to speak. Liverpool are looking to establish a partnership offer the next 4 of 5 years, growing the sides academy and developing footballing standards, giving Liverpool the pick of the bunch in signing some. The Merseyside club now has two players from the Nacional academy, in Coates and Suarez making Liverpool that much more of an attractive destination for Uruguayans to apply their trade.
Next week I will preview the return of skipper Stevie G ( - insert Darth Vader Theme here- ) as he targets the game against Tottenham to mark his return.
Thanks to Alan Duffy@ Who ate all the pies for Capello quotes.