KIEV, UKRAINE - JUNE 15: Andy Carroll of England looks on during the UEFA EURO 2012 group D match between Sweden and England at The Olympic Stadium on June 15, 2012 in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
So if rumours are to be believed, specifically BBC-propagated rumours which I would usually take as being towards the pinnacle of reliability, West Ham have agreed a £2m fee with Liverpool for a year-long loan of the equine forward Andy Carroll, who has been linked with a move away from Merseyside since Brendan Rodgers, who likes to play nice football, took the reins at Anfield.
Getting down to brass tacks, everything about this piece of news sickens me to my very core. £2m is not a lot of money for a player I believe Spurs could have badly used this season, for the following reasons which I'm going to uncharacteristically attempt to place in a numbered list. Conciseness yo.
Of all of the points I'm going to make in this piece, I expect this to be the least controversial, mainly because it doesn't involve any direct reference to the big man himself. We need someone who can lead the line this year and provide us with an outlet. We're at a stage which is not yet desperate yet far from advantageous- one month off of the start of the season with only one senior forward on our books. So be it Carlton Cole, Marlon Harewood or Sandra Redknapp, we need to fill out our attacking ranks with bodies, preferably in a cost-effective fashion. A £2m deal for a senior player is not a bad start.
2. Carroll is the missing piece of the jigsaw
So here's where the controversy begins. Towering over most centre backs at 6' 3" and gifted with considerable physical presence, Andy Carroll is exactly what Spurs were missing last season- an ideal hold-up guy. While attempting to switch onto the counter-attacking foot and strike at the oppostion defence, Spurs lacked someone who could touch down the ball effectively, hold up possession and feed our pacy wingers, leading to the breakdown of a vast number of our attacking moves. With Andy Carroll, Spurs could have rectified this problem easily. As he demonstrated at times in the Euros, Carroll doesn't have to just be used as the target post to heft balls towards in the box- he's technically proficient and has the nouse and ambition to drop deep and help in attacking buildups too.
Of course, that was then and this is now, and we have a new manager with a new style of play at the helm in the form of Andre Villas-Boas now. Yet Carroll could still perform an important role in AVB's favoured style of play too- though the Portuguese's pressing style does perhaps call more for a quicker striker who can find the net more accurately and consistently than Carroll, in Ramadel Falcao and Didier Drogba Villas-Boas showed that a more conventional target man can work in his system without forcing the team to resort to hefting it at his head. And as I employed before, Carroll has shown that he has enough about him to transcend the 'lump' tag too.
3. He's an incredible Plan B
But OK, so I get that people might still argue that a less direct and more pressing system like AVB's might have no place for a guy who, let's face it, mainly does 15-yard headers and knock-downs to earn his crust. But consider the scenario. It's late in a game of attrition with an equally-matched side and we just can't seem to break them down for the winner. Enter Carroll, who as a super-sub against Chelsea in the FA Cup final nearly turned around the game single-handedly. I'm gonna say it straight: I don't think anyone can wreak havoc like an absolute battering ram against tired legs like Big Andy. When pretty football just isn't working, he can give us another option off the bench- and if he's just a one-year loan option, we have no obligation to use him as anything else.
4. He really does have a bit more about him
Abstracting this whole discussion from where Carroll would fit into our system and assessing specific criticisms of his ability, it has often been said that Carroll is a one-trick shire horse. But consider that only 19 of all of Carroll's career goals in all competitions have come from his head. Time and time again, he's demonstrated a thunderstrike left-footed shot that makes him more the spiritual successor Alan Shearer than John Carew. His touch and hold-up play are strong, and he's managed 28 assists in his short career for others so far, too. And even if he is best with head, some of the goals he's managed in recent months using that attribute, particularly against Sweden, we (whisper it) truly world-class.
5. It's £2m
Seriously. £2m for a year's use of a good striking option. This is a good deal.