What has Brendan Rodgers got against Andy Carroll?


Tell me a manager who wouldn’t want a big, powerful, determined striker that’s great on the deck and immense in the air; a centre forward capable of frightening every defender he plays against. 

Err, that will be Brendan Rodgers then. 

Every boss has blind spots. Favourites they easily forgive, cast-off’s they can’t help castigating. It’s normal. Seeing only what they want to see, certain judgemental mistakes are par for the course. The most successful managers just don’t make as many as the rest. 

For me, Rodgers’ swift and damning assessment of Andy Carroll is a puzzling gaffe. 

I like the Liverpool boss. His philosophy is admirable, and he appears to be a sensible, thoughtful guy that looks after his players. Affording the previously unappreciated Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing the opportunity to resurrect their Anfield reputations is a testament to that open mindedness. 

All of which makes it even more strange that the 40-year-old was so quick to write off his £35million striker before giving him a try. 

The Northern Irishman has consistently indicated that Carroll’s ‘style’ doesn’t fit in with his vision for Liverpool. He’s tried to soften his stance by suggesting the former Newcastle star ‘just needed games on loan’ but his thinking is crystal clear. 

He’s choosing to build his team around the skills of Luis Suarez – and that means there’s no place for a Geordie bulldozer in his plans. 

Personally, I don’t see his logic. 

Andy Carroll, as he showed in a colossal man of the match performance against Manchester United last night, isn’t just a set piece wrecking machine that stands up front begging his team mates to fire long range missiles at him. 

He’s so much better than that. So much better. 

Against the champions his link-up play was almost faultless. Coming short to find team-mates with sharp one touch passes, running his markers into the channels and holding it before finding a colleague, winning every aerial ball that was fired towards him; the 24-year-old hardly put a foot wrong. 

His work-rate and appetite for the challenge was also admirable. Lean, full of running, he won the ball back for his team all over the Boleyn Ground pitch, pressurising every defender with an intensity few centre forwards tend to exhibit these days. 

His quick feet and awareness almost helped him score what would have been two terrific left footed strikes, and every time a ball was thrown into United’s penalty box there was only ever going to be one winner. 

Rarely have I seen Rio Ferdinand look so timid, rarely have I seen Nemanja Vidic bullied as much. In fact the Serbian was sent crashing to the turf so often, the Old Trafford kit man doesn’t have a prayer of getting rid of the grass stains. 

Then there’s his scary side. Make him angry (as Wayne Rooney did when treading on the big man’s toes) and he’ll seek revenge. Wiping out David de Gea and Patrice Evra on the goal line was just his opening, albeit crushing, gambit. 

In this kind of form, Andy Carroll would be a major asset to any football club. 

So, why can’t Liverpool make use of him? 

It’s a question Brendan Rodgers is yet to adequately answer. 

Carroll’s style isn’t so one-dimensional that it only suits a single type of system. He could play with a partner, or on his own. For long ball merchants, or for footballing sides. 

To cast him as anything other than an all-rounder is really, rather narrow-minded - and that’s what Rodgers is being when it comes to the West Ham loanee. 

Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez (the jury’s out on Fabio Borini) are excellent front men that should be integral to Liverpool’s short term future, but they alone can’t shoulder the burden completely. You need variety. You need alternative options. 

With a tight lid on this summer’s transfer kitty, it would make perfect sense to give Carroll a second chance at Anfield. If only, to have a frightening plan B up their sleeve. 

Yet the Reds boss still seems blinkered. 

If he sells Carroll this summer it will be his second major boo-boo as Liverpool boss. His first was to send him out on loan in the first place. 

Read more from the footballer turned journalist Adrian Clarke