Andrew Carroll has been through a lot since signing with Liverpool on January 2011, after being purchased for £35 million from Newcastle. Consistency and goalscoring have mostly eluded him during his time at Anfield, but it seems that with a little help, everything might be coming together for the 23 year old striker.
It might be a little presumptuous to claim that two consecutive game winners from Carroll mean that he’s out of his long funk, now ready to become a full time member of the club’s starting lineup while actually doing enough to justify the highest price ever for a British player. Then again, everything begins with little steps, and Carroll made a huge one on the Wembley grass.
To say that it was Carroll’s biggest game, biggest career goal would be accurate. Matches at Wembley, the FA Cup Semi Final, those still mean quite a lot in England. Cup competitions usually don’t come off as that important in other countries around Europe, but across the channel, things are done a bit differently. Jamie Carragher already hailed Carroll as a Liverpool legend because of the settings for his goal.
A derby against Everton, an FA Cup Semi Final, coming back from behind, an 87th minute goal. Taking into account the criticism Carroll and Kenny Dalglish have received over this long season, this was more than a simple feeling of vindication. Not about revenge, but probably about stepping out, and a new beginning just around the corner. Too bad the season is almost over.
If Carroll’s leaping header at Ewood Park was about coming out of the horrendous 2012 form, his winner at Wembley was about showing he can be part of Liverpool’s folklore, about being a part of big occasions, about deserving a regular spot in the lineup, which along with everything else, seems to be the most important thing for Carroll right now. Strikers, more than anyone else on a football field, need confidence, need constant playing time to become meaningful contributors.
Dalglish had his moment in the sun. Thank god there’s an Everton game every once in a while. While David Moyes does well against everyone else in recent weeks, seeing red brings the worst out of him and his teammates. He has won only four derbies in 24 matches against Liverpool, managers replacing and rotating and all. Moyes has been doing a great job with what he has in recent years, but it never seems to be enough when the big games come up. When a title, rarely as that is, is on the line.
Everton didn’t really risk Liverpool for most of the 90 minutes, and two terrible defensive mistakes cancelled themselves out. Behind Distin and Carragher, there was mostly Tim Howard being busier. Stewart Downing on the right is much more dangerous than on his stronger foot’s side. It didn’t bring the goal, but it changed the entire match and momentum. Still insisting on Jordan Henderson as a winger doesn’t seem to work.
But Dalglish is nearly where he promised he’d take this team. Titles. Glory. It’s not hapenning on a league level, but if he can learn from his mistakes, while knowing and believing the Carroll’s winner-ism isn’t just a one week thing, good things are waiting beyond the horizon for Liverpool.