West Ham’s Andy Carroll has certainly paid witness to a rather frustrating period out on the pitch lately, arguably going backwards ever since leaving the safety of his boyhood club, Newcastle United.
Before Raheem Sterling’s recent big money switch to Manchester City, the lofty centre-forward once held down the title of England’s most expensive ever player, a title he took in joining Kenny Dalglish’s set-up at Liverpool for a grand total of £35m back in the winter of 2011.
Alongside a certain Luis Suarez, the Gateshead-born front-man was expected to lead the line at Anfield for a good few years to come – but as we’ve nonetheless seen in both particular cases recently – such a fairy-tale like outcome simply never came off for Liverpool in the cold light of day.
Carroll has since joined up with West Ham in the Premier League, where the former England international has unfortunately spent a great deal of his time at Upton Park injured. Although the Hammers spent over £15m on the player just a few short seasons ago, the 26-year-old simply hasn’t made the impact most of the Boleyn Ground faithful were expecting.
And with the towering striker has subsequently suffered yet another injury set-back supposedly postponing his return to first team action until mid-October, is it simply time West Ham called an end to the former Liverpool man’s frustrating stint in the east end? Or does Carroll still in fact have something to offer Slaven Bilic’s new side ahead of the 2015/16 campaign?
Firstly though, one thing that just has to be made clear within any discussion involving the ex-St. James’ favourite is the fact that when he’s fit and firing in the Premier League, Carroll can simply prove unplayable.
He has certainly shown some pretty promising spells whilst representing Newcastle, Liverpool and West Ham in recent seasons, and even when the traditionally styled English no. 9 has been forced to battle some of the very best top-flight defenders this country has to offer, the big Geordie front-man has ultimately proven too much of a handful with his remarkable aerial ability and prowess in the penalty box.
When it comes to dominating physically in the final third, proving an absolute nightmare for the opposition from set-pieces and scoring well-taken goals at an impressively frequent rate, Carroll has definitely shown himself to be worthy of his notorious reputation. He may not be the quickest, and he’ll not reveal himself to be the most technically gifted striker any time soon, but ultimately Carroll’s strengths certainly outweigh his weaknesses.
However, in regards to staying fit for a whole season and offering his respective manager a reliable first choice option on a week-to-week basis, the powerful centre-forward simply hasn’t delivered. Because of his daring approach in the opposition’s half and sheer wild nature in the air, Carroll ultimately picks up too many knocks to be considered an all-round playable asset in the modern era.
If the situation doesn’t improve dramatically for the no. 9 sooner rather than later, then the Upton Park faithful could begrudgingly find themselves with another Dean Ashton on their hands. Nobody wants to see that happen.
Yet because West Ham have finally parted ways with Sam Allardyce and can now look forward to watching a front-line that doesn’t have to thrive off long balls for the whole 90 minutes, perhaps Andy Carroll nevertheless has one more chance left in the east end to finally prove his worth. Bilic will take on a completely different approach to Big Sam, and the results could maybe see the club’s marquee striker pick up far less injuries than he would have under his former boss.
Given the chance to play predominantly on the deck, with only the odd long ball lofted forward for the striker to successfully bring down, Carroll may eventually find his fitness, and hopefully turn the tables of his so far frustrating West Ham career.
As this is modern day Premier League football we are talking about here, however, where literally no situation can be truly predicted or taken for granted, perhaps time will simply have to tell on the future of Carroll.
If he finally gets fit, then hopefully Bilic can utilise his injury-prone front-man via a much safer approach – yet if the injuries only serve to continue for the former England international, West Ham will simply be left with no other choice but to finally part ways with their ever unpredictable centre-forward one way or another.