How do we solve a problem like Andy Carroll?
It doesn't appear to be going particularly well for wor Andy at the moment, which raises the question of how and when we are going to the best out of him.
I'm not writing this as some sort of jerky-kneed reaction to the Spurs game. If that was the case then there would be an article on the other 10 sorry sights from yesterday's performance. Instead I'm trying to be as fair as possible to the lad who's clearly finding it hard to find any sort of form.
There has been no lack of effort from the big Geordie when he has featured this season and this shows he is trying (maybe too hard at times) to put things right. At one point in the Spurs game he was in the right-back position sliding in to win the ball back for his side. Whilst this sort of stuff is commendable, his first touch and general movement has been abysmal. What I find hard to accept is that this will magically appear once he is 100% match sharp.
Andy has had a full pre-season's training and we are now 6 games into the new campaign so I'm struggling to understand what the problem is. Granted it can take strikers some time to find their shooting boots after a long period of injury, but does this extend to the movement boots or the technique boots as well?
Technically he doesn't look good enough and there seems to be an issue with his physicality, of all things. If you look around the rest of Europe you will struggle to find a top side that utilises a big man with such apparent limited ability. The likes of Llorente, Lukaku and Gomez all fall into the "big man" category but they are infinitely stronger physically than our soft Geordie. A few trips to Lucas' home-built gym would do him no harm at all.
So what exactly was he bought for then? At the moment that's not an easy question to answer. He's young, English (well, Geordie) and seems eager to improve. There is of course that heading ability given the right service and that howitzer of a left foot which we've seen glimpses of already.
Steven Gerrard is yet to play this season and there's no doubt Carroll would thrive on his delivery from wide areas. It can also be argued that with Stewart Downing given an as yet unsuccessful free role and no natural width coming from the right, there has been a genuine dearth of service to him.
But in these times of fluid systems and players interchanging positions he almost seems a throwback to an outdated age. At the moment it's hard to envisage us forming a dynamic, free-flowing frontline that includes Andy Carroll.
To be absolutely fair to the lad, he needs an unbroken run of at least 10 games in the side before we can make a reasonable judgement. I'd love nothing more to be proven wrong and see him finish the season as one of our top scorers. At the moment there's an underlying doubt surrounding him and I'm pretty sure in the next 3 months or so we'll know one way or another whether he has a future at Liverpool FC.