Tony Hanna's Musings

Well, that three points takes a bit of the pressure off although wins for Huddersfield and Newcastle only helped to create more congestion again in the relegation battle. The 2-0 win against Watford was again a match of two halves. The performance in the first half should have seen us go clear as with a little luck the disallowed goal was so close to call it could have easily been given; there was a good penalty shout turned down and an Arnie miss which should have been buried. Add those to the goal we did score and the fact Watford created nothing it should have been game over, sit back and relax and watch us knock the ball around for the final 45 minutes. But we rarely do easy do we? Watford dominated the game in the second half albeit without really threatening but relief came when Arnie put the game to bed with minutes to spare. The other good news is that there were no new injuries and we saw starts for both Antonio and Arnautovic who have been sidelined recently.

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Which brings me to an interview David Moyes did last week. When questioned about who was fit and not for the game against Watford he advised that Arnautovic had been training last week but Lanzini was still a week or two away. Fonte was training but lacked some match practice, Reid had a throat infection (which I took no notice of when I did my predictor – damn), and Obiang and Fernandes were both long term injuries. Notice anything? Obiang and Fernandes look certain to miss the rest of the season but Moyes still mentioned them. It might have been an over sight but there was no mention of Andy Carroll. It was a similar story two weeks ago when a match commentator reeled our list of injuries off – but forgot to mention Carroll. Physio room have Carroll down for a return in mid-April whilst some quarters suggest he may be out for the season but one thing is for sure – he certainly seems to be the forgotten player. In past seasons an injury to the big fella would have had us in crisis mode. Arnautovic is the man now and at last Chico is starting to work his socks off and score -the Moyes warning of you don’t play unless you run seems to be hitting home at last.

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But what of Andy? In the January window rumours abounded that Chelsea wanted to sign him until the news of his latest injury scuppered that quick smart. From what I can ascertain he has been on around 75 grand a week for some time, which in fact is about the same as what Patrice Evra is on! What seemed a lot of money a few seasons ago is pretty much average nowadays. Basically, his injury record has not put him in a position to demand a better deal. Andy Carroll joined on loan in August 2012 and I was there for the final game of the season against Reading when many fans sang “Andy Carroll, we want you to stay”. I must admit it was not a song I sang but I sort of hoped he would sign a permanent deal. Well Andy did of course sign and five and a half years later we can look back on his career with a mixture of feelings, with frustration probably being at the top of most fans lists. He has averaged eighteen appearances and 5.3 goals per season and has not hit double figures in the premier League in six seasons. Aged 29 now and with just over one year of his contract left I have little doubt if Andy had been fit a few weeks ago our owners would have sold him to Chelsea or anyone else who may have been interested. Why not? There is no way he will get a contract extension and at the end of next season he is a free agent.

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Sir Alf Ramsey once said of our own Martin Peters that he was a player ten years ahead of his time. He was referring to the Martin’s vision on the field and his versatility. For me Andy is a player best suited to the game played 30-40 years ago. That is not to discredit the player, far from it, he would have loved playing in the seventies. The likes of Andy Gray and Joe Royle enjoyed great careers playing with a similar style and even in the nineties Duncan Ferguson did the same. Andy does have good feet and control, his hold up play is excellent and in the air there is no centre forward in the country better. But of course there are two big problems. One is his injury record and the other is that teams with Carroll in the side are almost forced to change their intended route to goal to accommodate him. When Brendan Rodgers took over at Liverpool in June 2012 he immediately saw that Andy did not fit the style of football he wanted to play and Sam Allardyce’s West Ham was a perfect fit for the big man and a loan deal was quickly sorted.

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It is not like it is a reoccurring injury that has blighted the player. There have been a plethora of different ones. If he misses the rest of this season his only Premier League goals of this campaign both came in the same match v West Brom. These two goals highlighted what a talent he could of, should have been. A towering leap with a bullet header followed by a side footed shot from an acute angle showing all the guile that belittles any thoughts that he is totally one dimensional. For further proof take a look at his goal against Crystal Palace last season in the video clip below. I am sure if another good offer came in for Andy Carroll in the summer window we would take it with relish. However, on what is now just an average wage at the club, if an offer was not forthcoming I would be happy to keep him if only as an impact player off the bench. What’s your views and if Andy was to be sold off before playing for the Hammers again, how would you look back on his career?