Andy Carroll should sign that contract to join West Ham now. He should have signed it yesterday. If he doesn’t do it soon then you’d begin to wonder whether he’s been spending too much time on those bar stools again. Or if that seems slightly unfair, you’d at least question why he is not being advised better by those around him.
If reports are to be believed, West Ham have made an offer to take him on loan for an initial outlay of £2m and should they avoid relegation the deal will become permanent for a further £17m. They will probably survive, in all likelihood quite comfortably, so the deal is effectively permanent in all but name. Financially they are pushing the boat out to attract Carroll, offering a reported £90,000 per week over a staggering eight year period.
Whether this is sensible for West Ham, a club with a recent history of financial issues is a separate matter. The immediate and obvious thought is not at all, especially given that David Sullivan and David Gold were calling for a Premier League salary cap recently – but then their behaviour is hardly renowned for being rational. That is a discussion for another day and regardless, it is an excellent offer from Carroll’s viewpoint.
The deal suits Liverpool as well. Despite recent comments, it is clear that he does not fit into the plans of Brendan Rodgers. The new boss has a focused idea of the playing style he wishes to impose, with his pursuit of Swansea’s Joe Allen suggesting it will be an upgraded version of what we saw with the Swans. Within that style and system there is no room for Carroll, except as a plan B, but even then I suspect Rodgers has more subtle ideas of how he’d like to change and influence a game.
Carroll’s spell in Merseyside has been somewhat mixed. After the big money move, he struggled with fitness and subsequently form, as he failed to adapt to new surroundings. Last season did however see an improvement. At times he showed the power that made him such an attraction to begin with, most notably giving John Terry a torrid time during Liverpool’s league victory over Chelsea in May. However the consistency just was not there and his end of season report would have read “promising but could do better”. To an extent that is all irrelevant, since this is a new Liverpool era. Under Rodgers the tactical setup will be based around ideals such as technique, movement and first touch, rather than utilising his power. Staying at Liverpool would not suit Carroll, as the playing approach will not be tailored to his strengths, and if anything, may highlight his flaws.
Step forward Sam Allardyce. Some players and managers just seem so perfectly suited for each other. As Allardyce plots to establish West Ham as a Premier League side once again, he will utilise his traditional playing style, at least initially. Despite his public protestations, it was evident at times in the Championship last year and will be the basis for his tactical setup this time around too. They will be more direct, more aggressive and will require a traditional English style centre-forward as a focal point. Now step forward Andy Carroll.
In Allardyce’s system, think of him as a younger and better version of Kevin Davies, with a few less elbows being thrown about. The team will be structured to bring the best out of him, as it was at Newcastle, and he will revel in it. West Ham will ideally need to bring in at least one winger capable of delivering good crosses into the box (a version of David Bentley that could be bothered would be perfect), but expect to see lots of balls played from deeper positions by the full-backs and runners coming late from midfield. Kevin Nolan must hardly be able to contain his excitement.
Carroll has had a taste of the bigger stage with Liverpool and England and it is understandable if he wants more of it, but he’ll have to accept he is not a major cog in the wheel at Anfield. Realistically, he is not going to get a move to a Champions League side either. He would not fit in at either Manchester club, whilst Chelsea have their own semi-failing striker to concentrate on. And just imagine the sight of him in an Arsenal shirt – his new teammates would stare at him in bemusement, wondering “what are we supposed to do with that, I thought we played under head height rules here?” He supposedly favours a return to Newcastle, but they have developed significantly since his time, with their attacking style changing initially with Demba Ba and then more so with the signing of Papiss Cissé. It will not be the same if he goes back.
This move could reignite his career. With regular playing time in a system designed for him, he could get back to the form of his best days and become a monster, terrorising defenders once again. And he needn’t worry about his England place. He’s more likely to retain his spot playing regularly, rather than spending his time getting splinters in his backside. And there is hardly a plethora of talented England strikers waiting in the wings to take his role in the squad.
Sign that contract now big man, it could be the best thing you ever did.