Liverpool welcome Newcastle United to Anfield on Friday night and the build up to the game will be dominated by Andy Carroll as he lines up against his former club for the first time since his £35m move last January.
The signing of the 22 year old English centre forward, who at the time had an impressive 11 goals in 19 appearances for his boyhood side, was regarded as a massive signal of intent by Liverpool’s new owners in the wake of Fernando Torres’ departure to Chelsea.
Fast forward eleven months and the talk now is whether Carroll will ever make it at Anfield, that he isn’t suited to our style of play and three goals in 19 appearances this season do little to quieten the questions.
That is why, when Kenny Dalglish held his pre-match press conference ahead of the game, Carroll’s prolificacy dominated proceedings.
Dalglish backed the player and says he doesn’t believe he is struggling for confidence:
“I don’t think self-belief is a problem for Andy Carroll, I don’t see why it should be.”
“There is nothing to say he is short of belief and there is no evidence he should be.
“One game he played in we went down to nine men [the 4-0 defeat by Tottenham] and another [the loss at Fulham] we had another sent off.
“He loves playing football, loves scoring goals and loves being part and parcel of the team.”
“He is adapting well to the change and we’ll keep working with him. Fortunately for Andy we have much greater belief in him than a lot of people who write about him.”
Meanwhile, another player who made the move from St. James’ to Anfield in the last 12 months, Jose Enrique has backed Carroll to come good:
“Andy is a great player. Nobody pays £35 million for a player for nothing and Andy is value. When he starts to score one goal, he will score many goals.
“It is a different style of play for him to get used to here. We have Luis Suarez, Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy – all different. For the style of English football, Andy is very important. It was a little bit hard to get in behind Blackburn, so you are firing crosses in from everywhere.
“Andy is capable of scoring a goal in those situations and that is very important. I thought Andy was amazing. The one thing is the ball doesn’t want to go in the net. We have the players and I think we have an amazing team. I know it will come right soon.”
It isn’t just Andy Carroll who is struggling for goals though, Liverpool in general are, with just 21 goals in 18 games this season. Defender Daniel Agger said:
“It is always a worry but what can you do? You can only keep creating chances and at some point it has to come. We had a lot of shots against Blackburn and you have to give credit to their keeper once again.
“It’s just that final touch, isn’t it? And it’s not only one or two players, it’s all of us. You can’t just point at the strikers.”