Carroll, Berbatov can reinvent themselves

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David Beckham would probably admit that his best years were back when he was wearing the number seven jersey at Manchester United.

He was well on his way to becoming a football legend, but fell from the mountain the moment Fergie threw a boot at him. He then had a forgettable few years at Real Madrid that made people write him off.

No-one believed he was a football player rather than a commodity when he took his talents to Los Angeles. He has since stayed off the radar for European football fans, but has reinvented himself as the saviour of football in America, being the first megastar to join Major League Soccer.

His form of late actually warrants a legitimate debate about whether he should get picked for the British Olympic squad. Have a look at the clip below for evidence.

If David Beckham could make himself relevant again after all these years, you would think another player who struggled under Fergie’s system might have a chance to salvage his career. The general consensus among United fans is that Dimitar Berbatov was one of the most talented United players of the past decade.

Although he wasn’t ever in the class of Wayne Rooney, Berbatov had proved that he is one of the most skilled strikers in the league, possessing one of the best first touches of the football, superb at control and at protection from tacklers.

Most teams would have him as a starter, so it was baffling for my United friends that he spent two seasons as a benchwarmer, a role he is clearly unhappy to continue with. Berbatov posted a status last week saying maybe it’s better for him to leave, effectively ending his future at a club where it’s well documented that anyone who doesn’t want to stay will be sold.

The truth is that he is still a good player, albeit at the tail end of his career, and the fact that he hasn’t played much for the past couple of years might actually work in his favour if it has kept him from burning out physically.

He still has a lot to give to whichever club he ends up at, only needing match time to prove himself and rebuild his confidence. If the rumor proves true and he heads to Milan, he would benefit from the less physically demanding Italian culture. He would start in place of the recently departed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, around whom Milan built their offensive system. Both share similar attributes; meaning Berbatov should find it easy to adapt to the existing system.

From a player who fell from a totalitarian manager’s favour, now let’s talk about a player who is unwanted by a newly appointed manager. That player is Andy Carroll. Most EPL fans would feel that Carroll and Berbatov shouldn’t be mentioned in the same conversation; Berbatov is a skilled veteran, while Carroll had exactly one good half season of top-flight football before getting traded for a comically ill-advised sum of $35 million.

Skill wise, there is no comparison. Carroll is the model of the traditional English striker. No-one in their right mind would bet on his finishing. In fact, my fellow Liverpool fans aren’t even surprised when he hits the woodwork or misses the goal completely. But in saying that, at 23 he has a high ceiling, and the fact that he did dominate the league in his last six months at Newcastle might just stop me from completely writing him off.

The main reason he has been a bust at Liverpool is because he is playing under another man’s system. Luis Suarez is the number one striker at Anfield, and Carroll was a panic buy to replace the equally struggling Fernando Torres. It didn’t help that many fans believe he was only signed because the King disliked working with foreign players, and would rather overpay mediocre British players to join his team instead.

As a centre-forward, Carroll is a big man who thrives on getting good crosses; the fact that Liverpool didn’t adopt this style for the last year and a half was overwhelming for him. His lack of Premier League experience added to his woes as he desperately tried to justify his price tag, while other teams’ defenders were just too good not to figure him out.

With new manager Brendan Rodgers starting at Merseyside, it is likely that Carroll would continue to struggle if he remains with the team. Rodgers employs a smooth passing style not unlike Barcelona, meaning Carroll couldn’t be more at odds with his manager’s football philosophy.

Not the most gifted footballer ever, I personally don’t see Carroll adapting to Rodgers’ system, but that doesn’t mean he can’t reestablish himself as a solid striker for another team. I think he is shaping up to be the rich man’s Peter Crouch, good for at least 10 goals a season.

If Beckham could take his one specialty of devastating long-range balls, then reboot his career, I wouldn’t bet against 23-year-old Carroll being able to do the same with his particular skill set.

It’s disappointing that his stay at Anfield has been less than merry, and that Liverpool is set to make a huge loss in selling him, but Liverpool fans are all used to it by now.

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