Sunday 18 February 2018

Anfield faithful turn up heat on misfiring Carroll

Andy Carroll's number was up after 75 minutes. As he headed straight for the tunnel, he received a verbal volley from one of his own fans which was plainly more accurate than the one with which he had hit the bar earlier.

It was a prickly afternoon at Anfield. Kenny Dalglish described his team's performance as "unacceptable".

Defender Daniel Agger said Liverpool played like headless chickens and would have "no chance" of qualifying for the Champions League on the basis of such miserable form.

Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers left Merseyside having left a dent on the bodywork of Dalglish's stalling bandwagon. No one is talking about a 'feel-good factor' at Liverpool anymore, and the sense of perplexity at how the bulk of £110m has been spent is spilling over into pockets of irritation.

Carroll is the easiest target because of his £35m fee, his lack of mobility, the tactical disruption his presence alongside Luis Suarez causes and because the sheer will to see him succeed makes dreadful displays like this infuriating. He's scored some goals recently, but this arrangement does not look right.

Carroll would surely admit it himself. It is not entirely the former Newcastle striker's fault.

Ever since Carroll signed, there have been muffled whispers of "Stan Collymore". That was the last time Liverpool broke the club's transfer record on a striker who looked the business elsewhere, only to discover they didn't have a clue how to make him fit into their own system.

Their failure to beat yet another promoted side was not solely down to Carroll's eighth-minute miss, when he struck the woodwork from six yards.

Stewart Downing is capable of much more than he is showing and Jordan Henderson was removed from another torturous outing at half-time. His lingering lack of confidence is excruciating to witness.

The youngster appears to be adhering to rugby rules whereby he fears a penalty if he makes a forward pass. There is more sympathy than despair with Henderson given how little opportunity he's had in his favoured central midfield role.

Charlie Adam and Lucas Leiva are too slow, unable to track runners when they lose possession and expecting too much time on the ball when they have got it. Swansea's Leon Britton ran the centre of the park for long periods.

With Wayne Routledge a persistent threat, Rodgers' side created enough opportunities to win, so his pride at getting a draw seemed a little surprising. Midfielder Mark Gower, who shot over with the goal at his mercy with seven minutes remaining, did not sound like a man in the mood to celebrate.

"It was horrible really. I snatched at it and I reckon I'm going to be thinking about that chance for a long, long time to come," he said. "In that one moment I have to confess the Kop suddenly got a lot bigger and the goal got a lot smaller. I'm devastated, but I'm going to have to make sure I don't dwell on it."

It will be Dalglish doing most of the pondering during the international break, especially with Chelsea and Manchester City on the horizon. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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