Dalglish happy to see Carroll debut
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is looking forward to seeing more of record signing Andy Carroll after the £35million striker made his long-awaited debut in Sunday's 3-1 win over arch-rivals Manchester United.
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Carroll made his first appearance since December 28, when he was still a Newcastle player, after a thigh problem as a 74th-minute substitute. His first touch was a goalbound header straight at goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, having risen above the United defence to meet Jamie Carragher's free-kick.
But Dalglish has warned not to expect too much too soon from the England international, who had scored 11 Premier League goals prior to his injury.
"He is a good guy. He is not someone who thinks he is superior to anyone else, he just loves playing football and wants to be part and parcel of the club,'' said Dalglish. "We have to temper his enthusiasm a bit. He is only a young lad, he is going to be big player for this club.''
Dirk Kuyt scored his first Liverpool hat-trick, and the first by a Reds player against United since Peter Beardsley in September 1990, to render Javier Hernandez's late header irrelevant. Dalglish, however, accepts they still have some work to do before they can match United in challenging for the title.
Sunday's win lifted the Reds back up to sixth, but they are 18 points behind their arch-rivals who lead the Premier League by three points from Arsenal.
"Manchester United are a benchmark for everyone, are they not still top?'' Dalglish said. "There is no-one who would rather be in their own position than United's. The closer you get to the top the more difficult it is to close the gap. Moving from 20th to sixth is not as big a problem as moving from two to one so the higher you go the more difficult the step up is. United are a great benchmark but our season is not finished.
"We got our reward for the victory in three points in the league, but we just want to keep going and get as many as we possibly can. The owners (Americans Fenway Sports Group) are determined to move the club forward within reason. Whatever that is going to be, they will do their best to provide it. But the players who played there did not do themselves any harm in terms of being part of the club going forward.''
The win provided some revenge for the two defeats sustained at Old Trafford earlier in the season in both the league and FA Cup. Dalglish's first match in charge, taking over less than 24 hours after flying in from a holiday in the Persian Gulf following Roy Hodgson's sacking, was in the cup game. However, he said it was difficult to compare the performance from then to Sunday.
"It was a totally different story. They got given a penalty after a minute and we had our captain sent off after 30,'' he said. "It was really different to what this was but everybody was disciplined, well tuned in to what they had to do, wanted to do it and did it.''