Liverpool striker Andy Carroll has thanked manager Kenny Dalglish for sticking by him during what he accepts has been a personally disappointing season.
In the last couple of months there has been a noticeable upturn in the 23-year-old’s performances, and for 35 minutes of his substitute appearance in Saturday’s FA Cup final defeat and last night’s 4-1 demolition of Chelsea he was arguably the Reds’ best player.
His goal tally may not have reflected that, with just nine in 45 matches this season, but there are signs Carroll is starting to find the form which persuaded Dalglish to spend a club-record £35million on him.
The Reds boss has stoutly supported and defended the former Newcastle forward and that has been appreciated.
“Kenny has shown a lot of faith in me,” Carroll said. “I haven’t had the greatest season but he has stuck by me and defended me and encouraged me a lot.
“I am confident of doing well all the time and I think it is not just the last two games, I think I have played well in a few games.
“I am enjoying it and I think you could see from last night I have been enjoying my football and training.
“I am just confident every time I step on the pitch and I think it has shown in the last few games. I think I just needed a bit of a run. In training I have been doing well and all the lads have been enjoying it now.
“We have all been sticking together and playing well. I can’t wait till next season.”
Liverpool fans have been willing Carroll to do well ever since his arrival in January 2011 but, because he has not weighed in with the goals he was expected to and at times looked like he was struggling to fit into the system, he has come in for criticism.
Recently, the 6ft 2in striker has looked more mobile and energetic and has shown a willingness to not only get involved in build-up play but follow it through into threatening positions in the penalty area.
Having given John Terry a torrid night at Anfield, he produced the knock-down for Daniel Agger to score the third against Chelsea and also won the late first-half penalty which Stewart Downing drilled against a post.
After the break he received a standing ovation for chasing the ball into the corner to ensure Chelsea earned only a throw-in close to their own byline and the Kop sang his name on regular occasions.
“I thought the fans were great,” he said. “Getting beat at the weekend I didn’t know what it was going to be like, but from the minute we kicked off we were fantastic.”