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Will the real Andy Carroll please stand up?

By on January 26, 2015 in Opinion

The superlatives know no end when it comes to Andy Carroll. Just take the two quotes below as an example:

I.Holloway in 2010 – “He’s the best striker in the Premiership.”

J.Hartson this season on Match of the Day – “Swansea simply could not cope with him and it was the sort of display I would have been proud of myself.”

However, the most poignant right now is that from his manager, Sam Allardyce – “He is unplayable if he continues to improve”

The only thing which has been consistent with Andy Carroll since joining us on loan from Liverpool in 2012 is the long-term injuries. And while he made enough of an impression in his 24 appearances to win himself a one-way ticket out of Merseyside straight to East London. his level of performance in that season, although contract-winning-worthy, was not even close to anything that we all know Carroll is capable of.

During his last two seasons at Newcastle in the Championship and the Premier League he was averaging just over a goal every two games. Indeed, West Ham have yet to reap the benefit of that Andy Carroll – rather – having to put up with him being out for longer than he has been fit, and being the ‘big lump’ up top to just get the ball to on the other side of the pitch. This season though, it seems we are finally seeing that Andy Carroll. He looks like a man who has had enough of sitting in the injury room and wants to get back to doing what he does best: scoring goals.

He ‘technically’ returned to the team in the dying embers of the home draw to Aston Villa, being introduced as a 91st minute sub. Even though he hardly played a full 5 minutes that day, he caused more problems for Villa than they’d encountered for most of the 90 minutes which came prior to his involvement. In his following thirteen appearances since that day Carroll has completed a full 90 minutes ten times, scoring an impressive five goals along the way too. It’s also important to note that not all have been thumping headers from crosses into the box. We’ve had Carroll provide the sublime (Swansea away) and also prove his poachers instinct (Hull home).

You have to wonder, is his raw talent being honed by none other than a certain Teddy Sheringham? Everyone chimed in on Sheringham’s involvement when Sakho and Valencia were playing brilliantly together – but less so since Carroll has returned? It has been touched on by pundits as well as the manager, but Carroll’s movement has been exceptional since his return – a lot of this must go down to the brilliant work done by the backroom staff, who have got Carroll looking the sharpest and fittest he has looked for some years.

For all the work the backroom staff have done with him, you have to wonder, would Carroll normally have been ghosting in on the shoulder of the last defender in order to score a tap in from a goalkeeping error? Not to sound harsh, but I just don’t think he instinctively would do that. It’s something he has been taught which, for me, points straight to the wily old fox-in-the-box that is Teddy Sheringham. With full fitness for the first time in god knows how many years, and the strings he has added to his bow, a hugely knowledgeable attacking coach and a manager who firmly believes in him – what is there to stop him?

With just under a goal a game, how much more can we really expect from Carroll? Just to get to the end of the season without injury? To hit double figures in his goal scoring? To get as close to 20 as possible?

To finish top goal scorer? To keep a fully fit Sakho/Valencia strike partnership out for the rest of the season? The reinventing of Andy Carroll has been completed and for now at least, it looks like he could well hit all of those above targets. He has already bettered his goal tally than he had at Liverpool (a measly 11 goals), and he achieved that with 15 less games. So personally, what I want Carroll to do is now push on and better his Newcastle goal-scoring tally.

That equates to 19 goals in his next 39 games. That may seem a lot to some people, but do you know what? I think he can easily do it. Especially going on the basis of the quality of players being brought in, as well as his developing partnership with both Sakho and Valencia.

No pressure, Andy.

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