Irony and how Liverpool’s £55m splurge can finally reap benefits

As Manchester City romped past Aston Villa last night, winning 4-0 and hitting the 100-goal mark in the Premier League, the title is one game away for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.

Liverpool, who looked for so long to be the frontrunners to claim an unlikely title success, are still in the running going into the last day of the campaign – but they need an improbable turn of events to fall their way this Sunday.

Sitting two points adrift of the Etihad Stadium outfit after relinquishing a three-goal lead at Crystal Palace, the Reds need to beat Newcastle and hope that West Ham can pull out a shock and beat City in Manchester.

City won the league on the last day of the 2011-12 campaign but not many are predicting that they will lose it at the last hurdle this time round.

If the unlikely does happen and West Ham can put a spanner in the works, two former Liverpool players may well have a significant role to play.

Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing typify the pre-Brendan Rodgers period at Anfield where exuberant expenditure on homegrown players failed to deliver results under Kenny Dalglish.

Unlike fellow Englishman Jordan Henderson who was initially viewed as a flop but has since won over the Kop with spell-bounding performances, Carroll and Downing failed to replicate their excellent Newcastle and Aston Villa form on Merseyside.

The misfiring pair cost Liverpool an astronomical £55 million and were later sold on to the Upton Park outfit for a combined £20 million – a massive loss for the Reds.

However, this Sunday some of that lavish expenditure could well be reclaimed as the attacking pair line up for West Ham; in reality, on recent showing the duo are the Hammers’ most likely protagonists to cause an upset.

Andy Carroll and Stewart DowningCarroll had sizeable shoes to fill after Liverpool cashed-in on Fernando Torres, while the addition of a certain Luis Suárez also played its role in the Englishman’s botched period at the club.

Although starting slowly, Carroll actually managed to come into some form in the second half of the 2011-12 campaign. However, when Dalglish was replaced by Rodgers, the Northern Irishman made it painstakingly clear that the burly forward would not be in his future plans.

Carroll left Anfield with only six Premier League goals to show for the period and has had a turbulent time in London. When fit and firing the striker has shown form suggesting that a World Cup place is not out of the question, but injuries have limited his time on the pitch.

Downing got more of a chance under Rodgers, more out of a lack of other options than the current Reds boss believing he was part of the club’s future.

However, at the end of last season the winger was one of the players that needed to make way for other young stars to join the ambitious club.

Similar to Carroll, the 29-year-old has taken time to adjust into Sam Allardyce’s squad but has recently started to get back to the dangerous player that convinced Liverpool to shell out so much money for him in the first place.

Downing netted his first goal as a Hammer last weekend in a 2-0 win over Tottenham, while the signs of improvement have been clear over the last number of months.

The pair’s motivation to help their former club remains to be seen given the nature of their departure, but if West Ham are to have a chance at the Etihad Stadium they will be critical.

For Liverpool, the £55 million outlaid to buy the pair will be an afterthought if Downing or Carroll plays the hero role this weekend.

I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo,, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City.I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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