Forget big money signings, is Andy Carroll the man to lead West Ham's attack?
As Hammers fans filled the Olympic Stadium for the official opening of the new ground to watch their beloved side take on a Juventus side filled with the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Dani Alves and Gonzalo Higuain, it seemed unlikely that the star of the show would be a 6ft4in Geordie. Thanks to his brace though, Andy Carroll stole the show in West Ham’s new Union Jack emblazoned kit and was the talk of the town.
With another assist in the Europa League and an impressive pre-season campaign, the 27-year-old is now gearing up for one of the most important campaigns in his career. Having made 32 first team appearances last season, the same number as he had made as the sum of the two previous seasons, the worst of his injury nightmares seem to be behind him, and he is now fully integrated into Slaven Bilic’s team and seemingly excelling with the new service provided by some of the best wingers seen in claret and blue in a long time.
With Feghouli, Lanzini and co providing the supply, Carroll could be deadly this season. Whilst Bilic searches for a prolific forward to fire the Hammers to the next level, Carroll, who was joint top scorer with nine last season, will hope to fulfill that role himself. Perhaps in partnership with a player like Andre Ayew, Carroll would not only see his physical and aerial threat as a way to score himself, but also to provide an increased number of assists with better movement around him to help the general play of the team.
There is also the hope of an England re-call with the appointment of Sam Allardyce as the new three lions manager. Allardyce brought Carroll to east London after his Anfield nightmare came to an end, convincing the Hammers ownership to fork out £15 million and a substantial wage to make his loan deal a permanent switch. Injuries limited his impact under Allardyce, but the former Bolton boss saw him as the target man to lead the line that his side had been missing, if England opt to play that same style of football, with few other similar options available, Carroll may be one of the first names under consideration.
The tall centre forward has proven that even some of the best Premier League defences struggle to handle his physicality and strength, and he has made vast improvements in other areas since he was ditched by Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool for lacking the required technical ability. Once valued at £35 million by the Merseyside outfit, he may now be beginning to show signs of the potential that was once seen in him.
It’s unlikely that Slaven Bilic would rely solely on Carroll, who has struggled with knee injuries in the past, but the man with nine England caps to his name could prove to be a vital cog in the West Ham machine this season. With no one better to make the most of some exciting wide players, Carroll will be hoping to have plenty of service in the club’s debut season in the Olympic Stadium, which may just fire him on to the next level and an England re-call too.
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