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By James Restall
Throughout the summer it’s become clear that Carroll is surplus to requirements at Anfield. With new Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers looking to emulate the success of his Swansea side’s total football in signing Italian stallion Fabio Borini, his young workhorse from the North East has been exposed as a one trick pony.
As a target man, Carroll has shown himself to be very useful in the air. His powerful header to give England the lead against Sweden in the Euros was the perfect example of his game’s best asset. Yet it was ludicrous for Toon legend Alan Shearer to confidently declare during half time in the quarter final that: “Italy won’t have had to deal with anything quite like Andy Carroll”.
It is true that Andy Carroll found form towards the end of last season. He bagged the winner against Mersey rivals Everton in the FA Cup semi, while goal-line technology might have awarded him an equaliser in the final against Chelsea. But save for a strike against doomed Blackburn Rovers in the League, for the most part last season Carroll was about as good at finding the net as an inebriated fish.
It’s not all Carroll’s fault – it was his employers who unexpectedly won the lottery to the tune of £50 million before pumping 70 percent of it into shares in Betamax. After a year of struggling to compete with the best, it appears that Carroll is obsolete to Brendan Rodgers and the new Liverpool setup.
For me, the Andy Carroll saga is a case of déjà vu. A few years ago, Leyton Orient had a striker called Jabo Ibehre. As a teen he scored a brace on his debut, and was featured in FourFourTwo’s “The Boy’s A Bit Special” feature. Talented on the ball but inept in front of goal, Jabo would leave the best defenders Division Three had to offer on their arses before firing the ball into Row Z. Plagued by the hype, Jabo once stated on the club’s website after scoring one goal in the first three games of the season: “I’m in the form of my life”. Ibehre finally left Orient in 2008 for the sunny pastures of Walsall, where he soon became a fan favourite and earned himself a move to Roberto Di Matteo’s MK Dons where he has become a first team regular.
Both Jabo and Andy Carroll have suffered from the sheer weight of expectation. During Jabo’s one good game each month he would be reported as Orient’s hot prospect; Carroll was unexplainably linked with a move to AC Milan following an overexaggerated performance at the Euros. Andy also has to bear the chains of his price tag which will forever render him an underachiever in football.
A loan move to East London is therefore Carroll’s best possible career move. Under Sam Allardyce he will be part of team which will play to his strengths and could allow him to be the big fish in the small pond as he was at Newcastle. The spotlight won’t have left him but it will have been dimmed – there will be considerably more heat on Rodgers as he looks to bring Champions League football back to Merseyside. If he scores the goals which keep the Hammers in the big time, then who knows – the prodigal son could forge a return to Anfield.