Our final review (sorry, I didn't see the point of reviewing the likes of Cole, Jovanovic, or Shelvey, and others. If they're already gone, about to be, or didn't even start, there's time enough to get to them next season).
Few players created the headlines when he arrived that Carroll did. When I woke up on January 31st to see that Liverpool were turning around part of the Torres cash on Andy Carroll, I stared at my computer screen for a good 45 seconds. Had anyone ever mentioned that as a possibility? I don't recall. Was it ever hinted that Newcastle would punt its new hero for the cash? Couldn't imagine it. That wasn't the Newcastle way, if there is such a thing. Then again, anything was possible under Mike Ashley, right?
After I was able to actually get to my feet, I considered the facts. I hadn't watched too much of Newcastle, I mean I like my sanity at the barely hanging on thread that it is. But I knew that Carroll was more than a battering ram. Yes, he scored his fair share of headers, and was a constant threat in the air against any central defense. But he had a cannon of a left foot too, as we were all too sadly a witness to when the Reds traveled to St. James Park. Overall footballing abilities? Who had any idea? He played for Newcastle, who were simultaneously capable of wonderful football and complete lunacy. He hadn't had anything near the teammates he would at Anfield.
And he was 21. All of it left me to conclude that if I could get over the inflated deadline day/British buy Tax, what we as supporters would be left with is a pretty unpolished weapon that with the right steering and teammates could one day be one of the more lethal weapons on the continent, much less England. I kept thinking of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, except not a complete tool but with not quite the touch. Maybe that was way off. Maybe just another Shearer, but actually playing for a competent club.
Now? Well, I don't feel any different. It's all based on hope and promise.
We didn't get enough games with Carroll. He also arrived injured, but was out much longer than Suarez. By the time he was ready to hit the pitch, Dalglish and implemented systems and formations without him. Does he fit it? Do we know? Dalglish already had the players working in a way that they did. And just about the time he was going to get a run, he got hurt again.
What did we see? Well, the promised lethalness in the air. But his teammates were too frequently trying to utilize it from their own half with hoofs to the gray sky than from the wings with crosses to the box. And Carroll's appearance sometimes came in team-wide bouts of insipidness. Home to Spurs, away to West Brom were two of his five starts. Were the malfunctions in part due to his inclusion, or was he just a victim of it? Does anyone really know? Yet he was a beast against Arsenal, but that was a backs to the wall, we-barely-have-the-ball thing. There was Man City at home, where he scored twice and gave us the most hope. But that's one game.
When it comes to Carroll's outlook, we're still left to go on what we hope to see, just as we were in January. A full preseason (well, once Suarez comes back from Copa America) with his new team should do wonders. As will figuring out which systems he fits in and which he doesn't. There's just too much in Carroll's toolbox, now matter how unsharpened at the moment, to think he can't become something truly special.
But we'll just have to wait.