While I was relieved that Tottenham’s £25m bid for Newcastle’s Andy Carroll was rejected, I was still dismayed that Harry Redknapp could think that the striker was worth a punt at that money.
Then along came Liverpool’s new owners, Fenway Sports Group, making demeaning ‘pfft’ sounds as they shoved ‘Arry out of the way and threw £35m at Newcastle (who hilariously rejected the offer at first). Of course common sense took over as Newcastle owner Mike Ashley recalled that he had offered Carroll to Liverpool’s first team coach Steve Clarke for £1m while he was at West Ham. Gift horse. Mouth.
Something feels a little impulsive about Fenway’s decision to spend such a huge amount of money on someone like Carroll. Maybe the desire to appease and please the jaded Liverpool fans caused them to lose sight of reality a little; a bit like a guy who buys a girl an extravagant and inappropriate gift after just one date. I mean eighteen months ago Carroll was the enthusiastic half of a comedy forward line with Shola Ameobi. Now he’s the eighth most expensive transfer of all time.
Fans and pundits have been having fun with the numbers all day. Carroll is Mesut Ozil+Sami Khedira+Van Der Vaart+Javier Hernandez. Or 583 Seamus Colemans.
And the truth is that only time will tell if this remarkable transfer is value for money for Liverpool. As Johnny Giles loves to say while giving his opinion: ‘We can only give our opinion, Bill. We can only go by what we see on the pitch.’ And what we have seen on the pitch from Andy Carroll is a good five months in the Premier League with an average team and a relatively impressive England performance. It’s not a lot to go on.
Yes, he’s got the physical attributes and can score goals. But Dalglish should have concerns about his off-the-pitch behaviour with Carroll, at 22, guilty of nightclub fights, charged with assaulting an ex-girlfriend and breaking his team-mates jaw. His name has also been splashed across the front pages with the words “cocaine” and “orgy” in close proximity. His behaviour would lead any rational observer to conclude that Carroll is an out-of-control yob.
Three and a half seasons ago Liverpool spent £23m on, arguably, a world class talent. The day they sold that world class talent on (at 100%-plus profit) they recruit a one-cap striker with 34 career goals (only 14 of those in the top flight).
The perceived absurdity of the transfer has pushed every other move in to the background. Sure, the £50m for Torres is a lot of money but, on form, he’s one of the best strikers in the world.
Liverpool’s other big money signing (for the same fee that they paid for Torres in 2007), Luis Suarez, has a great goalscoring record in the Netherlands. But so too did Dirk Kuyt, Mateja Kežman and Afonso Alves. Former Tottenham player Mounir El Hamdaoui has scored 96 goals in 178 Eredivisie games but was not deemed good enough to make a single appearance at White Hart Lane. One wonders if Suarez will make the sort of impact that his fee suggests he should.
Conventional wisdom suggests that Liverpool’s return won’t be worth the £58m outlay (especially while they contrive to buy no wingers) but if they manage to salvage some pride from the season and qualify at least for the Europa League then their fans won’t give a toss.