The date: April 9, 2016. It was always going to be a special day – the last London derby at the Boleyn Ground – home to the Irons for 112 years. However, perhaps for one Hammer the game had an added significance. Remember Andy Carroll, Roy Hodgson?
A hat-trick against Arsenal in front of the East London faithful provided England manager Roy Hodgson with a major selection headache with the European Championships now just 60 days away. Shoot takes a look at the West Ham target man, who may just be an outsider for Euro 2016.
Where did it all start for Carroll?
Born in Gateshead, just 12 minutes away from St James’ Park, Carroll is a Geordie and grew up watching Newcastle challenge for the Premier League title on frequent occasions under the Toon Army’s greatest manager, Kevin Keegan. He attended Joseph Swann School in his local town and was taught PE by a teacher who had previously taught Paul Gascoigne only a few decades before.
As a youngster, he had joined the well-established Newcastle United academy with him aspiring one day to wear that number 9 jersey and emulate his idol – Alan Shearer. After occasionally scoring in the reserve team, at least one of his dreams had come true; as, in November 2006, he replaced Nolberto Solano in a UEFA Cup tie against Palermo to make his debut for his childhood team. By February 2007, he appeared in his first Premier League game in the famous black and white shirt when he came on for Paul Huntington in a 1-0 defeat over Paul Jewell’s Wigan Athletic side, and would have scored if it wasn’t for Wigan goalkeeper John Filan. His impressive start in a Newcastle jersey had made an impact on people in the North East and, as a result, he was awarded the prestigious “Wor Jackie Milburn Trophy”- an award that commemorates the next big thing within North East football. It looked like this kid was going to be special.
How did he depart St James’ Park?
After showing that he could perform on the big stages, clubs from the lower leagues took an interest in pursuing Carroll’s signature for a loan move. The move eventually came to Deepdale where he signed on loan for Preston in August 2007. Here he gained Championship experience under, coincidentally, manager Paul Simpson, whom later went on to be the number two to Steve McClaren at Newcastle United. The striker even scored a first competitive professional goal when he netted in a fixture against a Leicester City side who would eventually be condemned, later on in the season, to the third tier of English football for the first time in their history.
On his return to St James’ Park, he started to become a regular within the first team at Newcastle United and following the departure of Michael Owen in July 2009 following the confirmation that the Toon would play in the second tier for the first time since 1993, Carroll consistently featured for Newcastle, paired with current Fleetwood striker Shola Ameobi. 17 goals in 39 league appearances guided Chris Hughton’s men back to the Premier League.
But would he be able to cope in the Premier League – a division he had not yet scored in – coming into the 2010-11 season? That record soon came to an end when he scored a hat-trick against a managerless Aston Villa side in August 2010. But with him scoring his 11th goal of the season on Boxing Day he, despite signing a new contract in October, looked set to move on to better things. The chance came at Liverpool.
How did he get to this point?
Transfer Deadline day is always a special day but the final day of the January 2011 deadline was arguably the greatest. While the main story on the newspapers the following day was Fernando Torres’ move to Chelsea for £50 million, Carroll’s move to Liverpool was also attracting the headlines. £35 million was the fee paid out for Carroll by Kenny Dalglish as the Reds vied out for a replacement following the departure of Torres. Despite having a thigh injury and therefore not being able to make his debut at Anfield until March – in a fixture against the Reds’ fiercest rivals Man United – he made an impact at Liverpool under “King Kenny” with his partnership with Luis Suarez proving lethal despite only picking up four goals in the 2011-12 season (Dalglish’s last season in charge of the club). He did however thrive in the FA Cup that season with him scoring four goals in Liverpool’s six games on their run to the final, scoring most notably in the final defeat over a Chelsea side who a fortnight later would go and win the Champions League.
But after a frustrating eighth-placed finish for Liverpool, King Kenny was sacked. His replacement: Brendan Rodgers, a man who had the philosophy to play neat on the floor football – something which does not suit the aerial threat of Carroll. Newspaper reports had him out in an instance, but it was not a permanent move when he departed. Instead it was a loan move to West Ham United. Here he suited the philosophy of Sam Allardyce, scoring seven goals in his loan season. His seven goals this season however, have been of the most importance as he guides the Hammers towards the Champions League.
What’s his experience with England?
Carroll has been around the England set-up since a youngster, making his Under-19 debut in September 2007, scoring in the 4-0 victory over Belarus. His next step up was the Under-21 side and he made the step up in August 2009 when he featured for the first time for Stuart Pearce’s men following him making an impact at Newcastle. But, by 2010, he was shining and impressing too much for current senior manager Fabio Capello to not make an appearance for the senior team, making his debut in November 2010 in a fixture against France following a disappointing World Cup campaign for the Three Lions. Since that day at Wembley he has featured on another eight occasions for England scoring two goals – including one at the European Championships in a stunning comeback over Sweden in the group stage.
Why is he so dangerous?
Carroll is your average target man. His height of 6ft 4in means that he has the advantage over most defenders in England’s top flight. His jumping his expert, making it easy to win for him to win headers. Meanwhile his finishing is also good, with him being know for being relatively calm when in front of goal. The striker may just now be an outsider for France in the summer, who knows?