Given that it was one of the few positives to emerge from yesterday's loss to Chelsea in the FA Cup Final, we've already done most of the discussion needed about Andy Carroll's performance. After coming on to replace a badly out of sorts Jay Spearing, Carroll gave Liverpool a tremendous lift. He lashed home their only goal of the game after some neat footwork to free himself from John Terry in the Chelsea box, and missed out on an equalizer by the slimmest of margins, denied by a matter of inches (or, depending on your opinion, an incorrect call).
The only discussion left at this point is what, if any, bearing yesterday's display had on Carroll's Liverpool future. That it came so late in the season does little good, with less than week left in the campaign and little left to play for. And it certainly doesn't make him a world beater or erase his lack of influence in many of his other appearances. So for some it changes nothing---he was anonymous for most of the season and was more stop than start, and even his glimpses of potential are a footnote on an otherwise disappointing Liverpool career to this point.
For others---I find myself leaning more towards this end of things---it was another performance to suggest that Carroll might not be the worst buy in the history of the modern world, with a string of influential and tireless performances to wrap up the season. As we've talked about so often, he's never going to live up to his price tag, which, as a standard of measurement, does little for evaluation other than trying to gauge what other people think a player's worth is. As it pertains to Andy Carroll as a player, it's entirely meaningless, other than the fact that it's hung over his head for the entirety of his time at Liverpool, and not a match goes by that there's not at least one reference to just how much it cost to get him into a red shirt. He's worked hard and to more effect of late, and he's helped Liverpool be better no matter what he cost.
Regardless of your stance on the player, though, there's little arguing that for a 30-minute spell yesterday at Wembley, he was terrific. Not just better in comparison to others in the squad, who quickly lifted their collective game as a result of his presence, and not just because Chelsea weren't at their best. He was the type of force we'd hoped for when Liverpool signed him, and with a growing body of evidence to suggest that, against all odds, he might still have potential left in his 23 year-old body, it's probably okay if that made you even the slightest bit hopeful.