What a difference a week makes. Rewind to last Monday when Newcastle United came up against Manchester United. Step forward Andy Carroll who was presented with a glorious opportunity to put the Magpies ahead against one of the league’s leading contenders. Joey Barton delivered a perfect ball in from a corner and Carroll lost his marker Nemanja Vidic with great skill. He rose majestically to meet the ball but his header flew wide. This was to be the defining act of the game for Newcastle and Carroll. Never mind that Carroll played well in the lone striker role, giving Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans a tough time with his dominant centre forward play- his evening was remembered for that first half miss. And the nation’s press were quick to jump on it. Many journalists, including Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail were quick to write off Carroll’s Premier League pedigree after only one game but his hat-trick performance against Aston Villa on Sunday put paid to such presumptive dismissiveness.
Carroll was simply awesome on Sunday, albeit against a shaky Aston Villa backline. He bossed Villa’s centre back pairing of Richard Dunne and Cieran Clark all game and produced a consummate centre forward performance. He linked play excellently with his feet and with his head, setting up Kevin Nolan for Newcastle’s second goal with a delightful cushioned header and displayed a deadly display in front of goal which was apparently not part of his game. He lashed in a loose ball with his left foot from Joey Barton’s corner for his first goal of the game, scored with a left loot volley for his second and rounded off his hat-trick with a marauding third after starting the move and latching on to a Xisco through-ball.
The problem for Carroll is that he is young, passionate, talented and most importantly English. England’s lacklustre display in South Africa and Wayne Rooney’s indifferent form has shone the spotlight on Carroll as a potential option to remedy England’s striking woes. Newcastle’s opening fixtures can be seen as Carroll’s audition for a role in Capello’s next squad against Bulgaria. In my opinion though, it seems ridiculous that Carroll is now being talked about as a potential selection for England’s next squad off the back of one good performance; just as ridiculous as being labelled a Premier League write-off after only one game of the season. What is needed is a little bit of perspective.
There is no doubt that Carroll is a player with huge potential. He has the physical and technical tools to be a force in the game. He should be given time by the media to find his feet in the Premier League this season to allow him to grow into his role at St. James’s Park and fulfil his talents.
Knee-jerk journalism is becoming a huge problem in today’s need for instant gratification and results. How a young player can be judged on the basis of one game is truly astonishing. It is those same journalists who were so quick to dismiss Carroll that have now jumped on the ‘Carroll for England’ bandwagon. Patience is probably a difficult concept for a sports journalist but they should try and exercise it once in a while.
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