After yesterday’s game between Chelsea and Liverpool, where Glen Johnson’s late surge into the box was enough to secure three points for the Reds,I found myself grinning from ear to ear.
Not because I dislike Chelsea, or that the result had any significance to me at all. It was down to the fact that strikers Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll got a combined playing time of less than 15 minutes.
Despite both being fully fit and costing a reported total of £85m last winter, neither were deemed worthy of a starting place in yesterday’s showdown at Stamford Bridge. It has been refreshing to see that the two managers haven’t felt pressured into starting them both in every game. Starting places should be allocated purely on merit, and both can feel justified with their selections after the game.
Despite the pressure currently being applied to him by the national press, even AVB can look back and feel he made the correct selections throughout the game. Drogba was a constant handful and Sturridge came on at half time and made an instant impact.
Dalglish’s tactics were also spot on, with Craig Bellamy having a superb game working tirelessly in tandem with the ever energetic Suarez. It was Bellamy’s finesse and experience which allowed Liverpool to capitalise on the mistake by Mikel after Charlie Adam’s interception. It’s hard to see how Liverpool would have been as effective if Carroll was on the pitch.
Look at the impact that both Bellamy and Sturridge had in the game (and the season as whole so far) compared to Torres and Carroll, and then look at the outlay that their respective clubs have paid for their services.
Sturridge was nurtured through the youth team after coming from Man city at young age, and Dalglish took an inexpensive gamble on Bellamy who, as an impact player still has so much to offer. Why aren’t more top clubs taking a risk an older, hugely experienced player for a year or two? If I were Arsene Wenger, I would offer Thierry Henry a contract without thinking twice.
Why aren’t more players like Sturridge getting the chance to prove themselves. What about Josh McEchran who was farmed out on loan for the season?
When you compare it to the money that Chelsea have spent on Torres, who we all know has failed to deliver – the numbers just do not add up. At least Andy Carroll is relatively young and has time to grow into a player worthy of his transfer fee. Torres looks sadly well past his peak.
Given the financial climate and the impending UEFA restrictions on spending beyond your means, both clubs would do well to take more risks on developing youth and harnessing experience.
Yesterday’s game was proof positive that it can yield results.