Why Liverpool should take a leaf out of Newcastle’s book


Written by Joe Austin for Liverpool failed to beat Braga at Anfield on Thursday night. Their 0-0 draw was not enough to keep them in the UEFA Cup. Braga employed many tactics to delay the game and slow down the procedure but in truth they defended in an organised fashion. Kenny Dalglish lamented, at the end of the game, that his side lacked creativity.

This creative problem should be resolved by a change in style, not by a change in players. You cannot solve every problem by buying a different player.

Last night was also Andy Carroll’s first start and I think Liverpool suffered the ‘curse of the tall striker’. Sometimes when a tall striker plays, midfielders choose to play direct instead of keeping the ball on the floor. Even if they are instructed not to, when a player is under pressure, it is easier to hoist it up and try and land it on Carroll’s head rather than look for a pass. Liverpool players, even the experienced Jamie Carragher, were guilty of this last night.

I think Liverpool did lack a creative edge last night, but that is because they were lazy on the ball. They did not work hard enough to keep possession and work the ball into an offensive position, they instead tried to get the ball up the pitch via Andy Carroll’s chest or head.

It is a testament to the passing ability of the likes of Joey Barton, that Newcastle got the best out of Carroll. They created opportunities where they could play an accurate pass to Carroll in a good position, rather than just using him as an outlet and a first option. This is the way to best exploit his aerial ability; put balls into the box where he can attack. Not by going straight from defence to attack with a long ball.

This is a problem that other tall strikers suffer from. Peter Crouch is a player that will always stand out on the pitch. Players see him up the field and think a long ball is the right option. Sometimes having a tall player can be detrimental to a side’s passing game. And it is not the fault of the striker. Players like Crouch and Carroll are not so one-dimensional target men, they can play with their feet too. So I’m not blaming Andy Carroll. I blame a manager who tells his players to look for the long ball and the players who resort to it.

I don’t know what Dalglish’s plan was before the game against Braga, but in his defence, it takes a while for a side to get used to using such a big striker. Newcastle had the luxury of doing this in the Championship, where they were rarely put under pressure. It will take Liverpool time to adjust to having such a big target to aim at. They must be disciplined and continue to play the same way as they would if he was not playing. This will come with time. Liverpool have just invested in new players and it will take time for them to gel. Someone like Andy Carroll will take longer than most.

I have heard Liverpool fans bemoan a lack of creative players in their team. But it is too soon to call for new signings. Kuyt, Lucas, Poulsen and Maxi hardly set the world on fire, and I admit that. But Liverpool missed their two most creative players last night, Gerrard and Suarez. Rather than demanding a change in personnel, Liverpool fans should be patient and have faith, both in their current squad, and Andy Carroll.

To keep an eye on Liverpool’s and Carroll’s development, you can follow Joe on twitter @joeasutin8 are seeking new writers to join the team! If you’re passionate about football, drop us a line at “” to learn more.

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