Misfiring striker has four months to salvage his Liverpool career


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The Independent Online

It really was a last chance saloon for Andy Carroll on Saturday, because the notion that Kenny Dalglish values the striker is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain. Liverpool have privately denied they proposed a swap deal to Manchester City last week – Carroll for Carlos Tevez – but specific detail on that offer came to light last night.

The move won't happen, because City covet Carroll as little as they covet the notion of Tevez getting busy scoring goals at Anfield in the next five months. Audacious and imaginative though an approach by Liverpool to City's football administrator, Brian Marwood, might have been, for Tevez the timing was fairly disastrous. Hours earlier, Craig Bellamy had reminded City of the drawbacks attached to selling players to their rivals by eliminating the club from the Carling Cup.

Which brings us back to Carroll, a player who is no more contented on Merseyside than Tevez is in Greater Manchester. There have been telephone calls from those closest to him in the past month exploring whether the route back to Tyneside might actually be open to him. This explained a story of 20 days ago, suggesting Newcastle would be like-minded if the price were £20m.

Liverpool had no hand in that proposition and will not be taking a £15m hit on the money they laid out, which means that Carroll – much like Tevez – will be going nowhere this week.

Carroll has four months to salvage a little of the reputation that came with becoming the most expensive British player of all time and Saturday provided the impression he is not a lost cause. If he had caught a negative vibe from his club, then he didn't betray as much in a performance which went beyond leaping above Jonny Evans to send Dirk Kuyt sprinting in for Saturday's winner.

Of course, this kind of contribution is considered ancillary to the role of scoring goals, which Carroll has failed to do since his £35m arrival last 1 February. But he is waiting for Liverpool to learn how to involve him. If you're going to spend that much on a striker you might as well base an attack around him, though he was a solitary figure on Saturday and Dalglish's ironic response when he was asked about Carroll's strong performance did not augur well. "Well done Andy!" Dalglish said. "He has got to develop ... and work within our framework as well."It was a curious answer, considering the money Liverpool have invested. Liverpool cannot wait for the future with Carroll, though this performance, taken with his contribution as one of the better players in defeat at Bolton, tells them something.