LONDON: The FA Cup final could witness a battle of the misfits on Saturday as Andy Carroll (above) and Fernando Torres (right) look for Wembley redemption after enduring seasons to forget at Liverpool and Chelsea. Carroll and Torres became entwined in one of the most dramatic transfer deals in history last year, when Torres’s £50 million exit from Liverpool to Chelsea triggered Carroll’s £35 million departure from Newcastle United to Anfield.
Yet the dizzying price tags have appeared to weigh heavily on both strikers ever since that frenzied finale to the transfer window, with both suffering protracted scoring slumps with their new clubs. However, as Wembley looms even nearer, there are signs that both players are ready to start paying back their transfer fees in the currency they were hired to deliver: goals.
Torres, who could lay claim to being among the world’s best strikers a few seasons ago, has suffered a horrendous first full season at Chelsea, his once lethal touch in front of goal replaced by a footballing equivalent of the yips.Like Torres, Carroll has shown only occasional glimpses of the sort of form that persuaded Liverpool to make him the most expensive English footballer in history, and many remain unconvinced that the 23-year-old was worth the money.
However, he has plugged away despite indifferent form, and popped up with the late goal that saw Liverpool into the final with a 2-1 win over Everton.Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has been unstinting in his support of Carroll, insisting the tall striker and other members of his side thrive on criticism.
“Everyone has been battered,” Dalglish said recently. “Maybe that is what we need to get ourselves going forward.“Everybody is entitled to their opinion but if you want to be a top player, you have to go through most of the emotions you get in football.“Part of that is how you come back from criticism.”