After rejoining his hometown club last summer, Andy Carroll has endured a rather expected injury-riddled campaign at Newcastle this season.
The striker has managed just 17 appearances across all competitions, with various little knocks keeping him out first-team action for weeks and weeks.
But with his contract coming to an end soon, there was real talk of him potentially having played his last game for the club. However, according to The Chronicle’s Lee Ryder, Mike Ashley stepped in and sanctioned a new one-year extension to keep the 31-year-old at the club.
And judging by his latest performance against Manchester City, it does raise some serious eyebrows whether he represents the future at St James’ Park.
A real throwback striker, Carroll hardly had a sniff against Pep Guardiola’s side in their FA Cup quarter-final clash on Sunday evening, and whilst he did his best to charge around and make his presence known – Aymeric Laporte certainly won’t be waking up feeling great – he just didn’t have anything like the kind of impact to worry the away team.
Getting a hold of the ball against a side like City was always going to be a tall order, but with Carroll in the team, the Magpies resorted to pumping balls forward to him and expecting him to bring it down in the air.
To his credit, he won six of his 11 aerial duels, but the fact he only had 20 touches of the ball and only made seven successful passes shows just how anonymous he was.
Having started with both Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron – both quick and direct players capable of travelling with the ball for long distances – surely having a more pacier striker to complement them would have been the best bet?
A counter-attacking style would have gotten a lot more joy for Newcastle’s game-plan of sitting back and trying to soak up pressure. But instead, Carroll invariably didn’t have the pace to keep up with any of Saint-Maximin’s dribbles forwards. It felt like an old-school game-plan not fit to modern times.
With the Tyneside club on the verge of a potential takeover and a fresh new era, this would have been the perfect time to bring an end to Carroll’s second spell at St James’ Park.
Instead, Ashley rewarded the barely-ever fit centre-forward with a new deal, and just the latest mistake in his long reign at the club.