Wolves 01/31/2012: In Which He Came Of Age

After an uninspiring start to life back at Anfield, Kenny Dalglish oversaw a 3-1 win against Wolves that got the ball rolling. Raul Meireles hit a peach of a volley, and Fernando Torres scored his first under a former striking legend. Things were certainly on the up.

Then Torres put in his transfer request. And no matter what anyone at the Club did to mask his departure, and no matter how the Club emphasized the incoming transfers of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll, the headlines were always going to be around Torres.

A painful transition of #9s ensued. Out went the poster boy of a briefly glorious generation. In came England’s new superstar forward.

That was a year ago. It’s fair to say that neither has set the world alight since their record-breaking moves.

On Monday night, Liverpol repeated the same fixture just over a year ago, with an almost entirely different teamsheet, and on the back of encouraging results in two competitions already nonexistent in the January 2011 calendar.

Fears that this would be another case of two steps forward, one step back were quickly allayed. There was nothing at Molineux that hinted at another away collapse a la Bolton.

But it was a first half that saw plenty of end-to-end football. As Dalglish’s side have often done this season, the visitors took on the mantle of a dominant home side with the majority of ball possession and chances created.

Dirk Kuyt’s lack of a first touch, Jordan Henderson’s lack of a creative footballing brain and Charlie Adam’s Scholes-esque lack of a half-decent tackle were equally as impressive as the indomitable defending and attacking of Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique, the rock-solid defending of Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger, and the terrier-like defensive workrate of Jay Spearing.

Then there was Craig Bellamy, who, in the absence of Luis Suarez, proved probably the only creative outlet in a Red shirt. A Craig Bellamy who has put in performances that have shattered all expectations that came with his free transfer arrival, who has established himself a mainstay in the starting eleven, who has proved to be one of the signings of the season.

And then, there was Andy Carroll.

As staunch of a supporter of Carroll as I have been, and as much as I’ve insisted that he be given a chance to bed in and really show his worth, I will readily acknowledge that he has been a disappointment, especially given his massive reputation.

But at the same time, any stern critic of Mr. Carroll would have to admit that he has been on an upward curve in terms of recent performances, only with no goal to show for his efforts and improvements.

Not on Monday night.

This might not have been a powerhouse Andy Carroll at his scintillating best, but here was a #9 working his socks off for the team. Bullying defenders in the air and tormenting them on the ground, turning them with a touch and leaving them for dead, laying off long passes and turning them into attacking movements, making a nuisance of himself and buying space for his fellow colleagues.

And this time, he had a goal to show for his efforts. A predatory striker’s finish, one that he used to be known for while wearing black and white. Not unlike a certain former Red.

But a year on, on Transfer Deadline Day 2012, the talk of the town was not of Torres drawing another blank in a blue shirt against Swansea.

Because a year on, Andy Carroll finally exhibited his potential.

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6 thoughts on “Wolves 01/31/2012: In Which He Came Of Age”

  1. He was great today, and great against Man U in the FA Cup. I do wonder what happens with Suarez coming back now, though. Will he be a substitute having not played competitively for so long? Or does he get thrown right in there, knowing his pedigree and the importance of the Tottenham game?

    I think Carroll deserves an extended run in the team, but Bellamy is simply playing too damn well to be taken out of the striker role at this point. I think the Suarez-Bellamy pairing should be trotted out to start, with Carroll as an option off the bench. Downing is coming around whenever he’s put out there, while Spearing and a rested Gerrard would fill in the midfield quite nicely. Of course, Dalglish isnt willing to bench Henderson, so there he will be out on the right. Agree? Disagree? If you dont respond to this post, Im not commenting again lol

  2. I hope to see Suarez as a substitute due to his lack of match fitness, if not because of Carroll’s good form recently. Remember the Arsenal game at the Emirates back in August when we brought Suarez and Meireles off the bench? But then who says we can’t play Bellamy, Suarez AND Carroll from the get-go? That’s not playing 3 strikers – Bellamy has been a left winger in the style of Thierry Henry recently, and we all know Suarez isn’t an out-and-out striker.

    I’ve seen enough improvement from Spearing to suggest at this point that he should be a fixture in our starting eleven until Lucas gets back. Keeping the same back five (including Reina), I’d put Adam alongside Spearing in the center of midfield and play Bellamy-Suarez-Gerrard (all interchangeable) behind a lone striker in Carroll. That’d be my ideal starting lineup, and there would be the option of moving Gerrard back in place of Adam to play start Kuyt or Maxi in big games. (I still don’t rate Downing or Henderson.)

    1. That would be swell. Love that idea actually. Enrique and Johnson are our best wide players anyway, might as well go with our best players in the 3 slots behind Carroll. I’d love to see that.

  3. tell what you TRAC… that is a tasty line up, and with a bench of henderson downing kuyt kelly coates doni its a squad to give any one a problem on any day.. time will tell. 1 year into a ‘five year prodject’.. better times to come!! just think.. and on the hendo/downing and even carroll point.. they will get better, downing took time at villa, carrolls learning and adjuting as is henderson.. all will show there good enough soon.. dowings the worry due to age but he’s 2 goals away from terrorising teams.. feb games are huge.. lose all 4, slam down on our faces back to stage 1, lose premier league games win the cup games were a cup team, win all cup or even carling cup, and 4 points were getting there and win all 4 will send a serious message.. big f ing month for all those red.

    1. You know we have a good squad when you can’t find a place for Spearing (when Lucas returns), Maxi, Aurelio and Carragher in our first eighteen. That said, at this moment in time, I’m sufficiently unconvinced by both Henderson and Downing to suggest that Spearing and Maxi should take their places on your bench. Henderson I’m not too worried about just yet, since he does have time on his side. But for someone who was so hyped up, I haven’t seen any of his attacking, defending, stamina or workrate attributes. He may be a solid midfielder, but he doesn’t have any standout characteristics that justifies his current selection week in, week out. Downing, though, as you said, doesn’t have time on his side. I never rated him to begin with, and I was as perplexed as anyone else when we signed him in the summer, especially for the 20m pricetag. It’s a problem when you have a left-back who makes a far more capable left winger than our specialist left winger will ever be.

      Carroll, on the other hand, is a different case. He’s not a midfielder – hence, not a creator. He’s a player who gets on the receiving end of chances. Feed him and he will put them away. For now, our service has not been good enough. If we do get players who are capable of giving him service, we will see for real if he’s good enough to be a mainstay for years.

      A big month ahead, for sure. We tend to do quite decently against the big clubs, although Tottenham have proved an Achilles’ heel in recent seasons.

      Cheers.

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