Some of you may remember an article I wrote around the beginning of the previous season with the headline “Andy Carroll – we want you to play”. Another year on and that desire hasn’t really changed for me. But just like last season things aren’t quite as simple as that (when have things ever been straightforward at our club ?).
Recent news from the usually trustworthy Guardian claim that Carroll could actually be out till mid-October after injuring a medial ligament in one knee during the Southampton game, not being able to come off because all substitutions had been made at that point.
That all happened quite a long time ago, February to be precise. I remember this game so vividly as it was the last game I followed on an internet stream, albeit with a rather absent mind, sitting literally three metres away from my sick mom’s bed, with her still being alive at that point only to die just two days later on Friday the 13th.
While it obviously isn’t a question for me personally what was the greater tragedy of the two, of course for West Ham the latest in a long line of Carroll injuries and niggles was a nightmare of epic proportions, especially considering how much money has been spent on our top earner Carroll in terms of transfer fee and wages and how little the club has received back in the shape of minutes on the pitch and goals in the net.
Since he arrived on a permanent deal at West Ham he has appeared 27 times for us, scoring seven goals. Needless to say that the ratio between outlay from the club and output from Carroll has been quite atrocious. With Carroll as a devoted fan at least you gain some insider knowledge in the field of health and medicine.
Most of us didn’t know before if plantar fasciitis was something to eat, a rare kind of orchid or indeed a very nasty injury causing pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue located in the heel of your foot. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter if it is heel, ankle, knee, shoulder, hamstring or the groin.
What is important is that Carroll seems to be injury prone, not helped by the way he tends to go into challenges at full pelt, no matter where on the pitch or what phase of the game. If Carroll cannot change this approach, the next injury is just lurking on the next corner.
Checking out injury data on Carroll on transfermarkt in his time at West Ham alone the Geordie striker was out through injury for a total of 565 days (loan period included), missing a total of 66 games. Talking of positive things, I love Carroll when he actually plays, on his day the man is unplayable and he has a lot more to his bow than just being a battering ram useful for knocking down balls to teammates. Yes, he can do that, but he has already scored some lovely goals with his feet, showing great skill and technique.
The prospect of him striking up a partnership with Sakho, Zarate or a new striker yet to be signed, the vision of him running onto throughballs or converting crosses from Payet or Kouyate is mouthwatering.
All of which obviously will ony come to fruition if Carroll both gets healthy and stays healthy for the majority of the season. The aforementioned Guardian artcile mentioned that West Ham were taking a very cautious approach with Carroll this time, giving him all the time to heal properly, get in shape and match fit in his own time without rushing him back too early or putting too much of a goalscoring burden on him too soon.
I am very hapy with that approach, no matter how frustrating it is to again having to play the waiting game. This is not just about being a slow or fast healer though.
West Ham and Carroll himself need to find a way to somewhat tame his bullish effort and aggression on the pitch.
It goes without saying we want the new Carroll jogging about the pitch lazily. But if it makes any sense, Carroll needs to be more economical with his determination and effort.
I’m sure not only Bilic, but everybody at West Ham, including most fans, would love to see what a healthy Carroll can do over the course of an entire season or at least six or seven months in a row. I want to give Carroll the benefit of the doubt again. Once again I hope this time the worst is behind him and his next big injury, if any, is years away.
It’s time to finally repay West Ham’s patience with more games, more minutes on the pitch overall, more goals.
West Ham appear to be doing all the right things with Carroll this time to prevent another long-term injury from happening. Will Carroll be able to do the same and do his bit ?