THE price tags may have been vastly different but Anfield legend Alan Kennedy has plenty in common with Andy Carroll.
Both left their beloved Newcastle United behind them after being lured by the prospect of chasing silverware at Liverpool. And despite having moved away from their boyhood club, they retain strong feelings for their North East roots.
As Carroll prepares to line up against the Magpies on Sunday for the first time since his British record £35million switch in January, Kennedy is well placed to know what will be running through the big striker’s mind ahead of the reunion.
The 56-year-old believes Carroll, who is hopeful of overcoming a knee injury to play, will be bubbling with mixed emotions.
“It’s always a big occasion when you line up against your old club,” Kennedy said. “You can’t just pretend it’s the same as any other game.
“You want to impress and put in a performance which justifies you leaving that club in the first place. You want to prove that you’ve bettered yourself. I’m sure it will be the same with Andy.
“Newcastle United was a big part of his life and you don’t just stop being a fan.
“I’m sure he will have family coming down from the North East for the game. There will be a mixture of nerves and excitement.”
Newcastle’s relegation to the Second Division in the season prior to Kennedy’s arrival at Anfield in the summer of 1978 meant it was five and a half years before he got to face the Magpies in a red shirt.
Carroll’s meeting with his former team-mates has come around considerably quicker. He was back at St James’ Park for the first time since his record-breaking move last week when he watched their draw with Manchester United from a private box.
However, Kennedy insists if he proves his fitness to boss Kenny Dalglish there will be no sense of split loyalties.
“It was different for me because I didn’t face Newcastle until a few years after I joined Liverpool but I’m sure Andy’s attitude will be the same as mine was,” he added.
“Your only concern is doing your best and getting the best result possible for Liverpool Football Club. If anything in games like this you can try too hard because you’re desperate to do everything right.
“When that happens you can sometimes make mistakes. He has to try to relax and let his feet and head do the talking.
“I think it helps Andy that Newcastle aren’t in any danger of going down. If Andy plays well and Liverpool win, it’s not going to have any serious consequences. It would be a much more difficult occasion for him if Newcastle still had something to play for.
“He will desperately want to play and get on the scoresheet. But Kenny won’t play him unless he’s 100%. It’s not just about the rest of this season, you have to think about next season.
“And after the way the team performed against Birmingham City there’s no need to rush him back.”
Kennedy’s career blossomed after his £330,000 move from Newcastle to Anfield. Two European Cups, four League Cups and four league titles followed as he amassed 359 appearances in seven glorious years.
The former full-back believes Carroll can similarly help the Reds add to their trophy cabinet.
“Joining Liverpool was a fairly easy decision for me,” he said. “Newcastle were holding out for one third of a million and in the end got an offer they were happy with. It was a British transfer record for a full-back.
“It was strange but I didn’t feel under any added pressure. It’s like with Andy and the money Liverpool paid for him, you can’t dwell on that.
“After I left I used to go back to watch Newcastle quite a lot. Going back there is always a pleasure.
“Growing up, Sunderland was my local side but from the moment my brother got a trial with Newcastle they became my team.
“When Terry McDermott rejoined them in 1982, I had Jackie Milburn trying to convince me to go back there as well but I was happy at Liverpool. It wasn’t long after I’d scored the winner in the European Cup final and I wasn’t thinking about moving on.
“Since Andy moved here I’ve been really impressed with him. He has handled himself very well.
“The two goals he scored against Manchester City were fantastic and the happiness on his face was great to see.
“He gets himself into some great positions and is equally good on the floor as he is in the air.
“You can see he’s enjoying his football and that link up with Luis Suarez is going to cause defences a lot of problems.
“Suarez is such an intelligent footballer. He attempts the unorthodox and is slightly different to what we regard as a trademark Liverpool player – someone who does the basics right. But he’s so exciting to watch and has been a breath of fresh air.”
The player nicknamed ‘Barney Rubble’ by Kopites left Liverpool in 1985 when Kenny Dalglish sold him to Sunderland.
These days Kennedy is a regular at Anfield and has been delighted by the impact Dalglish has made over the past four months in his second spell in the hot seat.
“Kenny has done an absolutely fantastic job,” he added. “He’s brought stability and direction to the club. Confidence is sky high but it won’t be easy against Newcastle on Sunday.
“Alan Pardew is a canny manager and they showed their spirit when they came back from 4-0 down to draw with Arsenal.
“But Liverpool’s home form has been excellent and the signs for the future are really promising.”