In his latest TEAMtalk column, Danny Mills discusses Andy Carroll's future, David De Gea's confidence and the issue surrounding handshakes.
In this week's Mills & Boom column, I give my views on the future of Liverpool striker Andy Carroll. Does the 23-year-old need to move away from Anfield for the sake of his career? I also discuss the confidence of Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea after a shaky performance at the weekend, as well as why booing from fans is not an issue, and why shaking hands before a game should be scrapped.
Give my latest offering a read and let me know your thoughts in the comments box below - Danny
Difficult situation for everyone
Amidst the fallout from Liverpool's tumultuous FA Cup fourth-round victory over Manchester United, news emanated from the club this weekend that £35million striker Andy Carroll had reportedly been offered to Manchester City in a swap deal with Carlos Tevez. Despite Carroll's public rebuking of the reports, you have to concede that it's such a difficult situation for him, Dalglish and Liverpool as a football club. Carroll's value was rocketed beyond belief due to the fact that Liverpool wanted £15million left over from the Fernando Torres transfer, and so it's unfair to judge his performances so far on that merit alone. But he hasn't settled, nor has he scored goals. Managers are judged first and foremost by the results they deliver, and then by their transfers, and it's fair to say that Dalglish's transfers haven't exactly been outstanding so far. Dalglish may be thinking that if he can just quietly offload Carroll in return for a Carlos Tevez for example, he could recover from the issue of making a few bad signings.
Carroll's confidence crumbled
While a move could certainly knock Carroll's confidence drastically, you could hardly say that it's high at the moment. He had a fantastic run at Newcastle and scored a lot of goals in a short space of time, being rewarded with this big move to Liverpool where he's no longer the star. He's not the main man, and the team isn't built around him, but consistency is the key for exceptional young players. It is difficult. Strikers live and breathe off confidence, and scoring goals is the hardest job in football. He's low on confidence, but if he gets another move his career could go either way. It could collapse completely and he could disappear off of the radar, or he could receive a massive boost from the fresh start. It depends on the nature and determination of the player himself, so while I don't think he'll move this January, we'll have to wait and see with Andy.
De Gea lacks Steele
But back to Saturday's early kick-off, the pressure is back on Manchester United keeper David De Gea. It's undeniable that he was at fault for Daniel Agger's opener. The defending on the second goal however was shambolic, with Patrice Evra failing to pick up the run. The finish was powerful and so you can't hold De Gea to blame for that one. The massive question mark over De Gea has returned though after well-chronicled troubles earlier in the season, and it has to be asked as to whether he's good enough for the Premier League. Coming back to the point of confidence, he just looks frail and fragile, and he's not really recovered from the mistakes. It's surprising as not that many teams have actually put him under too much pressure. Working with Eric Steele - the man who coached Joe Hart and improved his physical presence among other things - should have given De Gea a headstart, but it all comes back to this point of determination, and whether the players wants to improve or not.
Booing is part and parcel
The booing of Patrice Evra at Anfield was to be expected. Players get it for all sorts of reasons, including myself. But as long as it stays at boos then there's not a problem. Whilst it was allegedly spoiled by a couple of idiots at the game, you can't legislate for the odd individual in a crowd of tens of thousands. Booing is part and parcel of the game. Evra has to be big enough to stand up and take that, and he dealt with it well. Kenny Dalglish described the booing as "banter" after the game, and it's hard to disagree with him. There's no problem with booing. With racist and homophobic abuse? Yes, undeniably. Anything like that that amounts to personal jibes is an issue, but there's none with booing.
Handshake decision correct
Considering the ongoing investigation into allegations of racism from John Terry, the decision to call off the handshakes before Chelsea's 1-0 defeat of QPR was the right call. It would have fuelled the fire of the contest. Obviously Terry was involved in another situation over another handshake that didn't happen with Wayne Bridge, and all the focus was on whether they would shake hands. Bridge refused it as we all know, and it just escalated the issue. Rather than putting the onus on the two players - who incidentally couldn't have made a choice that everyone agrees with - it was the best decision for the situation in terms of the contest.
Send out the message
While some people have described the handshakes before the game as "traditional", it's only been an official rule since 2007. There'd be no issue scrapping it at all. It doesn't make a lot of difference. If you really want to shake someone's hand you'll make an effort and do it of your own accord. If the obsession with the handshake is based on fair play and sportsmanship, then surely the best option would be to do it after the game? That'd send a message out to children that whatever's happened during the game is part of the game and stays on the pitch.
Wigan in trouble
With the relegation battle set to hot up in the next few weeks, Wigan look precarious to me. For anyone fighting relegation, you need to be able to score goals. If you're leaking goals at one end and not scoring at the other then you're in big trouble, and while I love Roberto Martinez's style of football and philosophy, it doesn't seem to be working. They have 15 points at this stage of the season and they look pretty much doomed to me.
League win huge for City
My former club Manchester City have an opportunity to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League, visiting Everton. While they've had a long rest this weekend where Manchester United haven't due to the FA Cup, what City have done is forced themselves to throw all their eggs in one basket as it were. Having exited all the cups except for the Europa League - which, with no disrespect, won't be important to them - the league is now easily the priority. They have to go to Everton, which is never an easy place to go, and put in a performance to reduce the pressure they've put on themselves. Roberto Mancini will certainly be feeling the pressure now, as his remit will have been to win a trophy or at the very least progress in the Champions League. The fact that they're now out of all of these competitions suddenly means that finishing second in the league from such a strong position would be a huge disappointment. This increases the pressure. But they have great players, and players such as Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure returning to give them a boost.
Tough times for United
It's also been a tough time for Manchester United. Stoke at home won't be easy either, but they've had a couple of bad defeats so far this season. Normally if they lose a game they carry on and embark on a run, but it's not happened this season. Wayne Rooney, who has been missing for parts of the season, has been a big miss, and they've shown that despite controlling most of the game against Liverpool, they lacked that final cutting edge.
Spurs spying surprise
As I mentioned before, Wigan are in deep trouble at the bottom of the Premier League. With a tough game coming up against Tottenham as well, they could well be cut adrift. On paper it's a fantastic game for Spurs, and a supposed comfortable home banker. That'd put them back up to 49 points, putting pressure on the Manchester clubs. Realistically, a 3rd or 4th place finish for Spurs is a fantastic season, and whoever finishes above Manchester United - if anyone - will win the title. My money though, will be going nowhere but Manchester.
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