This week sees Andy Carroll return from his summer holiday to make a decision on his future. Following a successful season on loan at West Ham United, where injuries restricted his appearances, Carroll will decide on whether to make his move to London permanent. A fee has been agreed between Liverpool and West Ham, believed to be in the region of £15 million. All that remains is for Carroll to decide to take up the Hammers’ offer or not.
Sam Allardyce expects Carroll to rubber stamp the move this week, believing that he has talked Carroll into joining the Hammers and becoming an integral part of the team there. Indeed, several factors suggest that Carroll will make the move to London. His former team mate and good friend, Kevin Nolan, is the club captain; the team plays to his strengths and the fans there welcomed him with open arms and want to keep him.
If Carroll becomes a Hammer on a full-time basis he can expect to play every game and to have the West Ham team built around him. Allardyce’s sides have always been physical and put plenty of balls into the box. Carroll would surely thrive in those circumstances and score plenty of goals. In a season before a World Cup, Carroll will want to play as regularly as possible to give himself the best chance of making the plane to Brazil. Regular football could kick start his career and bring him back to the forefront of fans minds as he did on his first season in the Premier League with Newcastle.
However, Carroll is of a determined character. He was reluctant to move to West Ham, initially turning them down before making the loan move. He likely feels that he has unfinished business at Liverpool and will believe, given a chance, he could force his way into the team.
Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson both had indifferent first seasons at Anfield. Last season both of them, Henderson in particular, had a vast improvement with both regularly featuring in the team when they appeared to be heading towards the exit door. Carroll may draw inspiration from this and will simply ask Rodgers for a chance the same as they had.
Let’s not forget that moving to a club such as Liverpool, with the history and expectation to challenge every year brings its own kind of pressure before adding the British transfer record fee into the equation. Andy Carroll is 24 years old; he was 22 when he moved to Liverpool. Time is on his side if he wanted to give Liverpool another season before accepting it is never going to work out for him there.
Carroll’s talents are obvious, strong and excellent in the air. He possesses a fierce shot and in the Premier League these skills should not be taken for granted nor overlooked. Liverpool do not have a player remotely similar to Carroll. Many fans have suggested keeping him as a “Plan B”. That’s unfair on Carroll as he will feel he is good enough to play as part of Plan A. He has been unlucky with injuries during his time at Anfield and was not really given a chance last season by Rodgers. A brief substitute appearance in the first home game against Manchester City showed the affection the Kop has for him, rising to welcome him onto the pitch and willing him to score what would have been the winning goal. This affection for Carroll was, no doubt, partly due for his part in the FA Cup run with his goals in Semi-Final against Everton and against Chelsea in the final giving Reds fans, and himself, the belief that Carroll is not out of place in a red shirt.
Should Carroll move on then his time at Anfield should not be deemed a failure. It should be viewed that he fell victim to a club in a state of flux and managerial changes. He was not signed by Rodgers and that should not mean he should feel forced to play him. Brendan has his own ideas and methods for winning a game of football and he should not be criticised for feeling that Andy Carroll has no part in that. Many managers would build their team around Andy Carroll, Sam Allardyce is hoping to find out this week that he will be given that chance.
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