STEWART Downing, Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll all arrived at Anfield with a lot of expectation and with a tag of the future of English football.
With all three still currently contracted to Liverpool, they all still carry a tag, but instead of the one mentioned above, they carry one of some of the biggest flops to pull on a Liverpool shirt since their money spinning moves to Merseyside.
During his Aston Villa and Middlesbrough days, Downing created chances for fun and also mucked in with his fair share of goals. He played with the confidence and the direct style that Liverpool have been crying out for on the left flank for more than a decade. Henderson’s first full season in the Sunderland first team seen him boss their midfield and earn him plaudits all across the nation. Andy Carroll was in fine goal scoring form for Newcastle which also earned him credit from managers and players across the country.
So why is it that when players make the move to Anfield it takes such a long time, if ever, for them to reach their true potential? The players mentioned are not the only big name players to struggle at Anfield. Peter Crouch, Harry Kewell, Robbie Keane and Joe Cole are all others that have struggled. In fact it’s only Crouchy, who after a slow start, finally found his feet and made a good go of his Anfield career.
I have a few thoughts on this, with the first being that certain players may well feel that by finalising their big money move to a club like Liverpool, it’s the pinnacle of their career. In recent times there is only Michael Owen, Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa, Javier Mascherano, Raul Meireles and Fernando Torres who come to mind, who have swapped the Red of Liverpool to go on and gain further success with different clubs, with four of the six choosing to play their football at either Barcelona or Real Madrid.
My second thought is that certain players are not mentally strong enough and the pressure of playing for such an illustrious club is all too much and they just simply crumble. People talk about how the images of our glorious past around both Melwood and Anfield are there to act as an inspiration. Everybody is different and for some this will be the case, for others this will only add to the pressure of playing for Liverpool as this is a constant reminder of the bench mark that has been set.
My next thought is our scouting system. Do we have mediocre scouts who struggle to spot real talent and a player who actually fits the Liverpool style and philosophy? Just because a player is great for one side does not mean he will be for another. Brendan Rodgers has constantly spoken about the type of player he wants. He wants winners, people who will give their all for the shirt. Players who will go into every 50/50 challenge with 100% commitment. Those players are hard to find these days and this is another reason why I believe Rodgers has stuck with some of the youngsters.
Rodgers has some big decisions to make in the January transfer window and providing we can strengthen it wouldn’t come as too much of a surprise should we see the likes of Downing, Henderson and Cole head for the Anfield exit.