1. Cast your mind back to January 31st. Liverpool have announced that Fernando Torres wants to leave and is about to join Chelsea. News then breaks that Liverpool have had a bid accepted for Newcastle striker Andy Carroll. What were your initial thoughts about us replacing Torres with Carroll?
It was bittersweet; I was devastated that Torres was gone, but happy Carroll was here. I thought Carroll was a good striker given his performances in the first half of the season but I couldn't help but feel deflated that Torres was gone. He was getting back to his best it seemed and I was really looking forward to seeing what I deemed the best strike force in the Premiership with Suarez and Torres on board. However, I read a few posts on here from some of the few that talked sense who gave me a better insight into what Kenny sees with the big man up front with the little man playing off him and how Kenny favoured a team with this sort of partnership throwing back to his teams of the past. That made me feel more positive about the signing given that I trust Kenny and I was a bit more excited as to what we could expect going forward with the new lineup. I couldn't shake the feeling though that we'd downgraded, and I still can't.
2. Do you think the £35M price tag is a burden for Liverpool & Carroll?
I think it's been more of a burden for Carroll earlier on this season with away fans shouting the genius and original "what a waste of money" chant at him than it has been for Liverpool. It was evident in his celebration against Exeter that it was affecting him. I think away fans will be the main problem for this while he's not in goal scoring form but hopefully his goal last weekend will push him on further and everyone can be a bit easier on him.
If you actually look at the circumstances where it was agreed we'd pay £15 million less than what we sold Torres for, or whatever the agreement was, then it makes more sense of the situation and with that in mind, I don't see it as a burden at all. In hindsight, given he didn't have much of an affect on last season, I still think we rushed into the signing and we overpaid, but nobody knew how well Suarez would do and by selling such a big name player in Torres, we had to bring someone in otherwise our owners and manager would've possibly faced a backlash from certain parts of our, ahem, fanbase. As I said, I think the burdern is mainly felt by Carroll given the media hype and away supporters. Kenny has shown that he'll play other players if someone isn't in form.
3. How would you describe Andy's performances thus far?
I think his pre-season was really good but since we've been back in the premiership, he had a bit of a sluggish and lazy start. Over the past few weeks though, since the Wolves game, he's upped his game and is putting more effort in which we can see and I'm feeling better about him being on the pitch. You can see him being more vocal on the pitch as well which I think is giving him confidence and his overall play is benefitting from it. He's still gelling into the new look team and we'll see the best of him when the service improves. He's progressing still, and I think as supporters, we need to get behind him rather than lambast him for not giving us immediate results. Gerrard coming into the team will have a dramatic improvement on Carroll's game, in my opinion.
4. What would you describe as Andy Carroll's strengths and weaknesses?
His biggest strength is his size but so far, I don't think he's thrown his weight around as much as you would expect from such a big guy. He's got a belter of a left foot too which, if we see him dropping back more like he has been in recent games, with other players like Gerrard, Bellamy, and Downing running around in midfield giving him a bit more space, we'll see him smashing a few more from distance. He's obviously got his heading ability too but again, he's been very restricted with his lack of service and I think it's really holding him back. His weaknesses for me so far have been his reluctance to throw his weight around as I've said, and that he's looking for a foul too much instead of just manning up and getting on with things. One thing that really frustrates me is how often he's beaten to the ball in the air. He really should be winning those high balls in the middle of the pitch and it amazes me that someone as small as Lucas is visibly able to win more of those headers than Carroll is.
5. Some people say Andy Carroll needs to adapt to Liverpool, others say Liverpool need to adapt to Andy Carroll. Most think it's a bit of both, what are your thoughts?
It's a tough one but I think Carroll will need to adapt to Liverpool. The club doesn't have to adapt to Andy Carroll, he was brought in with a system in mind and he's a cog in part of that system. It's easy to think that because of his size, the ball has to be punted up to him and certain players are to blame for that perhaps. Kenny's trying to get the team back to pass and move and we've shown we can do that, and I think Carroll needs to show he can play in it too. From what I've heard and from some examples, he's shown he has a good touch and can distribute the ball well. The main thing he needs to adapt to is the pressure of playing at a big club and having the spotlight on him. He didn't have that pressure at Newcastle so he was able to play more with a smile on his face. You can see the strain at times he's been under with us and he needs to just shrug his shoulders, pull his socks up and give it his best. Once he's got that figured out, he'll improve a lot, I think. The fans will always be the same with any player and will want signs of world class stardom within a new player's first couple of games a la Suarez, and that's something that we need to improve because it's only detrimental to the players we're bringing in. Not every player that comes in will have that Lucas attitude of proving doubters wrong and won't always want to give 100% if the fans aren't willing to be patient.
6. Finally, how do you see Andy doing for the rest of this season, and looking further forward, his Liverpool career?
I think he'll have a good season. He's only 22 and that's often overlooked so he still has a lot to learn. Ngog is around the same age and people were still saying that about him last season, so people need to give him time. With Gerrard coming back into the team, we'll see our overall team performances improve and Carroll's Liverpool career will kick start. I think he'll have a similar career path to Fernando Llorente; slower in the younger years but as he gets to that age where players enter their peak, and in particular strikers, he'll be one of the best target men around. He was bought for 5 years, as Kenny said. I think he'll be a big player for us.