Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has said that Andy Carroll does not deserve any abuse when he goes back to Newcastle United this weekend – he is right.
It has been over a year since Carroll made the £35million move from the then named St James’ Park to Anfield and it is fair to say it has yet proven to be a great success.
Toon fans were not best pleased at the time and have barracked 23-year-old on the two occasions he has turned out against them, though both of these have been at Anfield so it would maybe have been easier to ignore.
When Dalglish takes his team to Newcastle this Sunday afternoon, many are expecting the former No.9 and Wor Jackie Milburn Trophy winner to receive some stick from the home crowd.
It may be difficult and, ultimately, impossible, but Newcastle fans should not fall into the default reaction to most former players and boo or abuse him.
Carroll leaving for Liverpool has been one of the principle reasons behind the club’s success this season and Geordie fans should realise that their former favourite leaving was a blessing.
Calling for reason in a football stand is not always that successful but it should be stressed nonetheless if the boos, whistle and taunts cry out when Carroll appears in the red of Liverpool.
Feelings were especially high in the case of the England international, as he was a local boy and obviously had a love for the fans of a club he had supported as a boy – it is always difficult to accept a local hero may leave when you have such a connection with them.
Carroll gave everything when he was wearing the black and white stripes and nobody can say he did not care about the club.
The deal between United and Liverpool was nothing to do with him and can you imagine Mike Ashley would happily accept a decision to remain at the club when another club were offering the record transfer fee for a British player?
£35million is a good price for a striker who scored 19 goals in his best season, a campaign that was played in the Championship, and had not been a prolific striker throughout his career to date.
The signings of Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse have all come in the wake of Carroll’s departure from St James’ Park, alongside Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton being let go.
All three have been great successes for Newcastle so far, though Cisse will be judged later but he has started magnificently, and you doubt if all of these would have arrived if Carroll had not been sold.
Cisse and Cabaye were certainly brought in on the back of the funds from the sale of Carroll to the team that will face up to Alan Pardew’s side the coming weekend.
Newcastle are having great success this season and have the possibility of finishing as high as they have done since they finished third in 2002-3 season.
Their team is more confident, they are defending more solidly and look as dangerous up front as they have done since the days of Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy.
Most importantly, they are currently sitting eight points ahead of the Anfield club and are one of the few clubs in the Premier League that are turning a profit, outside of player trading.
Pardew has spent wisely and replaced the players who have left with equally good, if not better.
If anything, United fans can delight at the schadenfreude in Carroll’s current predicament in Merseyside, though it is important to remember that the young striker would have had little to do with the decision to sell him and you imagine he would have been happy to tasty on Tyneside had there been no offer.
His comments in the lead up to the game are enlightening, as he seems genuinely happy about the current Toon success.
“I don’t usually get nervous but this might be a bit different,” he told The Journal.
“All of my family and friends will be there but they’re so big on football I’m not sure who they’ll be supporting.
“It’s great to see Newcastle doing so well, I support them, was brought up there and was lucky enough to have played for them. They will always mean something.”
Carroll’s struggle for goals at Liverpool has been well documented, so the Premier League drama-mongers will be itching to write the story of a St James’ Park comeback that you just couldn’t script.
Despite all the calls for calm aimed at the Geordie crowd, nobody will expect acquiescence should Carroll’s re-finds his scoring touch on his old stomping ground.