As Andy Carroll’s £35 million transfer from Newcastle United to Liverpool went through just before the transfer deadline on 31 January, the main talk surrounded the size of the fee splashed out by Liverpool, or how a player with his lack of long term Premier League experience could be sold for such a sum, or whether he would even be able to fulfil the role expected of him at Anfield following the departure.
However, a lot less discussion seems to have focussed on the reasoning behind the 22 year old striker’s transfer request which he handed in shortly before the move took place. Although there is talk of Carroll not wishing to leave, as well as that he wished to move to a big club that can win trophies, part of the reasoning may be a lot closer to home indeed.
If we go back 15 years to when Alan Shearer, St James’ Park’s now prodigal son, signed for the club from Blackburn Rovers, there was talk that the now Toon legend could sign for Manchester United. That talk was soon put to bed as Shearer signed for his boyhood club and never looked back, even as the seasons rolled by and his Newcastle medal drawer remained empty he still refused to part with his beloved hometown club as further offers from United’s Sir Alex arrived on the doorstep of St James’ Park. Even as the United players racked up their Premier League and FA Cup winners medals and even added a Champions League winners medal in 1999, he could not be swayed.
Such loyalty is to be commended, however one has to wonder if Shearer, at any stage during his ten year career with the Magpies, or as he looks back now after he has hung up his boots and taken a seat on the Match of the Day sofa, has wondered what might have been had he taken up Sir Alex on one of his many offers.
It is unlikely that this thought will have crossed his mind however. His comments following the news of Carroll’s departure tell us this much. “I’m staggered just like the rest of Newcastle fans,” he said when asked, and followed it up by stating that he “wouldn’t be surprised if he [Carroll] did not want to leave.”
Such comments prove that the Newcastle legend would never have left St James’, however, where Shearer may have considered the adoration of his home fans and the value of a single winner’s medal in the colours of Newcastle to be higher t in worth than ten in the red of United, it is clear that Carroll does not.
Although Carroll is considerably younger than Shearer was when he joined Newcastle, the 22 year old one time England striker has already been at Newcastle for six years and perhaps he feels that he needs to move now before he gets his feet under the table just a bit too much. That the longer he spends firing in the goals at St James’ the worse the reaction will be from the fans that were growing to love him more with every goal that hit the back of the net.
Perhaps then, it is understandable why Carroll has taken the opportunity that arose for him to depart the North East in search of pastures new and more successful. However, while Shearer refused even to go to the team that, many would say, have come to epitomise the Premier League, Carroll has chosen to join a club that, even though it has a rich history of winning trophies, has little pedigree over the last few seasons. Perhaps Liverpool are in fact on the slow downward curve that Newcastle partook in some 20 years ago, from which the club has still not recovered.
Only time will tell whether Carroll’s medal cabinet will be brimming with medals upon his retirement, or whether he has simply traded being the loyal but unfulfilled goal scorer of a once great football club for that of a different one.