This needs no introduction, it’s all in the title, so let’s get straight to our panel:
By Daniel Rhodes:
No. It was one of the bravest decisions Rodgers has had to make. Have any other managers ever been faced with the prospect of letting a £35m striker go out on loan? It was an excellent business decision. We had no buyers, the loan move placed him with a club that will play to his strengths; Rodgers could never promise that, and more importantly, if the manager wanted to play to his own strengths (and those of Suarez), Carroll had to go.
He slows down the transition of play. His touch can be found wanting. He doesn’t ‘give and go’. He’s often static in the penalty area. Slow over five yards.
He can win a header like no other. World class in the air. On occasion, he seems to have the build up play (think Wolves away). He’s got a quality strike on him, such a clean hit when he pings them from in and around the edge of the area (City away). His aerial prowess is two-fold when defending set pieces for the team.
But we don’t need a traditional target man. Some clubs thrive on playing one. That’s the only issue, his attributes directly impact our team work and style. We need fluid movement, a striker to stretch the opposition’s defence with pace. West Ham need a static out ball, with players in and around to latch onto the second ball.
Have there been points this season when we could have done with him? Of course. Especially defending set pieces. Should he have been allowed to leave before a replacement had been found? Again, probably not. But assuming we thought we had a replacement, it was the correct decision, for both parties. And good luck to him, I’d be very disappointed if I see him in a Liverpool shirt again.
By Dan Kennett:
First let me say that Daniel Sturridge is empirically a better play than Andy Carroll. However we only signed Daniel Sturridge when we had 28 points from 20 games. What we don’t know is the real reason for not signing Sturridge in the summer, after already sanctioning the exits of Kuyt, Bellamy and Maxi. For me if the choice is ‘loan Carroll and don’t replace’ vs ‘keep Carroll’ it’s an absolute no-brainer. He should have been kept until a guaranteed replacement was signed. I think the fact that Andy Carroll has missed half of West Ham’s games through injury is largely irrelevant. He may not have got injured at Liverpool as our record with soft tissue injuries this season is pretty remarkable.
I don’t advocate playing Carroll every game this season but horses for courses. Four games typify the bad side of our season: Villa H, Stoke A, WBA H, Oldham A. I think Carroll in the team would’ve improved the results in those four games. His physical presence in both penalty areas would’ve helped mitigate critical weaknesses.
In the PL last season there were 17 games when Carroll didn’t start. We won just 5 (29%) and PPG 1.24. In the other 21 we had Win% 43 and PPG 1.48. Neither great but it’s the difference between 47 and 57 points. In all comps against the teams above us we were W6 D1 L3 when Carroll started, W1 D3 L3 when he didn’t. Yes it’s correlation without causation, but it’s also moneyball. You play the players who get you the results even if it seems counter-intuitive.
However the most important reason he should’ve stayed is the impact on Suarez. WBA and Zenit (A) were the painful reminders of the problems with Suarez as focal point. It was 2011/12 and 2012/13 pre-Xmas all over again. Suarez is more productive and the team gets better results when he plays with someone else as the focal point. Like Andy Carroll.
By Andrew Beasley:
Whatever Brendan Rodgers thinks about Andy Carroll, and it’s safe to assume it’s not entirely positive, in light of the fact that no replacement was brought in, I’d rather we had kept him.
Although our cup campaigns are now over, we have still played sixteen cup games this season, and big Andy could’ve started all of them to protect Suárez more over the first half of the season. Even if Carroll didn’t start a single league game, that’d be over half the number of starts he made last season in all competitions (29).
He finished last season with three goals (no, damn it Chelsea, it was four!) and an assist in his last seven games (meaning 31% of his total goals-and-assist output for the season came in his last 15% of games), plus some impressive form at Euro 2012, and so had finally started to show what he is capable of on a fairly consistent basis.
Carroll also won more aerial duels than any other player in the Premier League last season, and had a better passing accuracy than other target men (such as Crouch, Heskey and Davies) meaning his flick-ons were finding colleagues more often-than-not, so could’ve offered a physical presence that we have at times lacked, especially away from home where eight of the nine set-piece goals we have conceded have been scored this season.
That said, if the manager doesn’t want him then I guess it was better he went somewhere he could play in order to try to drum up interest ahead of a summer sale. But the reasons above suggest to me he should’ve remained on Merseyside, if only until January when Sturridge came in.
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