West Ham chairman David Sullivan has admitted that Allardyce would have built his team around Andy Carroll, had he agreed to join them this summer.
Carroll turned down a move to Upton Park – who had agreed a fee with Liverpool for the big centre forward – in order to fight for his place at Anfield. It seems increasingly likely that Carroll will not leave the club despite his manager’s wishes, unless a Newcastle are able to meet the asking price.
The ex-Toon is unwilling to leave the North, where he has lived all his life: how else can we explain his refusal to move to London and play for a team fully suited to his own style of play? The message from Brendan Rodgers is clear; Carroll is deluding himself if he thinks he can break into a side that will characterise themselves by fluid, short passing football. Rodgers is renowned for his ruthless belief in his system, refusing to compromise, and refusing to let his players deviate from the strict tactical policies. The players must fit the system, not the other way round.
With this in mind, Carroll should be open to moves away from the club, where he will most likely warm the bench for the majority of the season. Of course, finding a club willing to pay for him is a challenge in itself. Through no fault of his own, Carroll is a ‘£35 million player’, and hence will continue to have a distorted figure attached to his head for the forseeable future. It is not his fault that Liverpool want £17 million – too much – for his signature.
There are plenty of Premier League clubs that would take him on, were it not for the excessive fees they would have to hand over. So it is even more strange that he would not want to move to West Ham, the only side prepared to make an offer, despite it being a “terribly expensive deal[…] too much for a club like ours,” in the words of Sullivan. Perhaps he is holding out for a dream move back to his boyhood team, Newcastle.
The problem with Andy Carroll is that he represents a dying breed of football player – a strong lumbering centre forward from a bygone era, when English football was more direct, more brutal, and more smash and grab. The modern game is increasingly based on passing football, with every player expected to possess excellent technical ability as an absolute minimum, as well as having the mobility, flexibility and vision that, in days gone by, would only be found in the central midfielder. There is little room for an Andy Carroll type of player in the modern game, unless a team is willing to build their attacks around him, in a direct, long ball system.
Once again, this returns us to West Ham, whose manager Sam Allardyce is famed for the directness of his teams. As well as offering the bright lights of London, they can offer to make him the central player in the team, since he is the “perfect player for [Allardyce] and the style of football we play”.
The lack of interest in Andy Carroll is a symbol of the changing face of modern football. A player of his style, despite his quality, has no place at the pinnacle of the modern game; he should have taken the West Ham chance when he had it. Let’s hope for his sake Newcastle can up their offer, or it may be a long and hard season for Carroll, warming the bench at Anfield.
Alex Keble is the editor of www.thechalkboard.org.uk, a website that gives in-depth tactical analysis of the weekend’s football action, offering match reports with statistics, diagrams, and intellectual insight into the modern game. Follow @ak_chalkboard.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!