At one time Andy Carroll was one of the most exciting prospects in English football.
He made a promising start to his premier league career scoring 3 goals toward the end of the 2008/09 season, which saw Newcastle relegated to the Championship.
The club’s relegation handed Carroll the chance to lead the line in first team football and his goals were vital in securing Newcastle’s return to the top flight. Newcastle’s first season back at the top saw Carroll in scintillating form, as he netted 11 goals in just 19 appearances before the end of January.
A hat trick against Aston Villa and goals against the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool sparked huge interest in the enormous forward.
At the end of the January transfer window Carroll was sold for to Liverpool for an eye-watering £35 million. It was at that point that things seemed to head downhill for the striker.
His impressive top flight form earned him a call up to the England squad and he made his debut in November 2010 against France at the age of 21. He failed to make a notable impact on the international stage. He does have two international goals to his name, a towering header in a 3-2 win over Sweden certainly confirmed his aerial ability, yet his lack of technical ability prevented him from standing out at the highest level.
Following his switch to Merseyside, Carroll struggled to make an impact at Anfield as Kenny Dalglish’s style of play proved difficult for the physical striker to adapt to.
He was signed at the same time as Luis Suarez as Liverpool looked to fill the gap left by Fernando Torres. Carroll struggled to impress alongside the technically flawless Uruguayan, yet his time on Merseyside was not without some highlights. In 2012 he lifted the League Cup after a penalty shootout win over Cardiff and only a few months later he netted the winner in the FA cup semi-final over Everton.
Although the reds fell short in the final, Carroll notched another goal at Wembley. However, his lack of potency in front of goal frustrated many as he only managed 6 league goals in his time at the club.
After a year-long loan at West Ham, the move was made permanent. Carroll tasted some success in east London but his time in the capital was plagued with injury. His best season came in 2015/16 as he scored nine goals in 27 games. After an eight-year spell at the Hammers, Steve Bruce handed Carroll the chance to come home in what many saw as a move of utter desperation from Newcastle’s newly appointed head coach. A tough season followed as injuries once again kept Carroll on the side-lines for long periods and he failed to score a single goal. But, could the upcoming season finally see a change in fortune for the 31-year-old?
Carroll cited his lack of pre-season preparation as a reason for his difficulties over the past few seasons. However, lockdown and an injury free summer has handed Carroll the opportunity to prepare thoroughly for the upcoming campaign.
Bruce’s men kicked off the season with an intensive training camp in York and in their first friendly the magpies put three past a lacklustre Crewe Alexandra team at Queen Ethelbergas College. Whilst the result may not excite many Newcastle fans, Carroll’s innovative and athletic effort just before half-time may have. Newcastle’s number 7 took a Jamaal Lascelles’s long ball down on his chest, his delicate header brought the ball into the box and then onto his right foot, he then managed to toss the ball onto his left foot, turning two defenders in the process and the well placed volley found the bottom corner of Crewe’s net. Steve Bruce praised the strike as evidence of the “Andy Carroll of old.”
Carroll himself seemed enthused with his performance and his fitness levels following a successful summer break and start to pre-season. If Carroll can prove his fitness, his presence in the side may prove invaluable for Bruce’s men. An injury to Dwight Gayle and Joelinton’s misfortune in front of goal could mean that goals, once again, are few and far between at St. James’ Park.
No doubt Carroll’s first season back in black and white was a disappointment to him and the fans, yet his ability to cause trouble for defenders is beyond doubt. His style of play is so rare in this day and age that he has the potential to trouble defenders who are not used to his unconventional physicality.
If he can maintain his fitness, many including Bruce seem optimistic that Carroll can have a meaningful impact on United’s season.