Shearer: Give him time and Carroll will prove why Dalglish paid £35m for him
Published 22:30 03/10/11 By Oliver Holt - Exclusive
Andy Carroll has already found out that a man needs broad shoulders to wear the England No.9 shirt.
He hasn’t done a lot wrong at Liverpool this season, but his £35million price tag means he has been damned with faint praise.
He has been compared unfavourably to Luis Suarez, who has made a stunning start at Anfield, and it has been suggested he needs to moderate his lifestyle.
Even England boss Fabio Capello was drawn into the debate, warning Carroll that his drinking was a cause for concern.
But the tide may be turning for the big Geordie frontman, who scored his first League goal of the season in the 2-0 Merseyside derby win at Everton on Saturday.
His reward was being included in the England squad on Sunday night, beating off competition from Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe.
And yesterday, Carroll, 22, was given a ringing endorsement by England’s best forward of recent times, Alan Shearer.
Shearer, who scored 30 goals in 63 appearances for England, was not only a player made from the same mould as Carroll, but he shares the same background. He understands the pressure that Carroll is under, and how hard it is for a man from a working-class background to withstand the constant scrutiny.
But Shearer – who worked with the striker during his brief spell as Newcastle manager – is adamant that Carroll will blossom for club and country under Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish.
Shearer said: “He is still the same Andy Carroll who moved to Anfield for £35m.
“He has to say to himself, ‘I am still the same person, I’m still the same player, the ability is in there’.
“It has not gone as well as he would have hoped at Liverpool. He hasn’t scored as many goals as he would have liked – they have not seen the best of him yet.
“But he is talented and a nightmare for defenders to play against if he is given the right service and if he is fit enough. I do see him as an England centre-forward, 100 per cent. Rooney will always be No.1, but he and Andy can form a good partnership.
“Once Andy settles down and scores more goals, you will see the fearsome forward that we saw at Newcastle. You’ll see the reason why Kenny paid £35m for him.
“How Andy fits the system at Liverpool, how he gets the best out of Carroll and Suarez, that is Kenny’s dilemma.
“Suarez has been just sensational. But Andy hasn’t quite got to the heights I know he can reach because I have seen him in training with Newcastle.
“He still hasn’t got that much experience. That might be one of the reasons why he hasn’t done it yet. He is still learning.”
Shearer moved away from his native Newcastle to Southampton when he was a teenager and admits it helped him concentrate on his football.
He flourished out of the intense spotlight, a luxury Carroll has not enjoyed given that he swapped the fierce gaze of Newcastle for football-obsessed Liverpool.
Shearer added: “Andy’s been brought up in an area where, how can you put it, people enjoy their lives, and he is relatively young.
“That is all he has known. When I moved to Blackburn as a mature player, I had a great guidance there, and that was Kenny.
“I know Kenny hasn’t changed and I’m sure he will protect Andy, just like he did with me.
“Andy is quite shy, unless you get to know him. But he has not really been in an environment where he has to mix with people.
“To have that £35m price tag is a lot to deal with. People shouldn’t forget that a lot of these guys, myself included, were brought up on council estates and did not have a great education.
“At 16, 17, 18, you are thrust into the spotlight – on £1m or £2m a year – and you’re expected to handle all the stuff thrown at you, but they are normal guys.
“I was slightly surprised to hear Capello make those comments about his lifestyle. I wouldn’t have been happy if he’d come out and done that in public.
“He had his own reasons, but I’ve been brought up with managers who tried to keep things in-house.”
One day, when Capello is long gone, Shearer might manage Carroll again. Maybe, by then, some of the pressure on the young man will have lifted.