Andy Carroll’s long-awaited Newcastle United return – will the former Liverpool & West Ham striker be a success or failure?
Andy Carroll is set to make his long-awaited return for Newcastle United at St James’s Park tomorrow.
And our writers Miles Starforth and Liam Kennedy – both of whom will be at the Premier League clash with the Brighton – have been assessing the former England, Liverpool and West Ham United frontman ahead of his much-anticipated appearance.
On the agenda in this week’s Toon Trending Topic is expectations of Carroll, questions about whether he can be as good as the first time around and whether the move will ultimately prove a shrewd bit of business or a waste of a place in NUFC’s 25-man squad.
What are your expectations for Andy Carroll this season?
MS: “I’m certainly not expecting him to start week in, week out. In fact, if he can start 10 or more games, then that will be a good return in terms of appearances given his recent injury record. I don’t think we can judge him purely on goals given that a big part of his job will be holding the ball up and bringing others into play, but I’d certainly expect a small contribution in terms of assists and goals.”
LK: “The dreamer in me wants to see a rampaging Carroll, aggressive, locks flowing, diving on the end of crosses galore and wheeling off in front of the Gallowgate, arms spread out like fellow Gateshead native Angel of the North. The reality could well be very different. He’s a lot older now, injuries have no doubt taken their toll. I do hope he can at least put this latest injury nightmare behind him and provide Steve Bruce with a ‘Plan B’ off the bench – or even better in a two-pronged attack with Joelinton. If we get 15 games out of Carroll this season, that will be expectation met. Anything else is a bonus.”
Can the player relive his former glories at St James's Park?
MS: “No, and Bruce has already touched on this. The Carroll that re-signed for the club is a very different player to the one we last saw in black and white. He’s less mobile, but he’s also older and wiser. Carroll was always an intelligent footballer, but he has a lot more experience now. He’ll be important on and off the pitch.”
LK: “While I get exactly what wider, older heads – Bruce and my esteemed colleague Miles – are saying, I’m a romantic at heart. He might be different now, but I want to believe Carroll can at least be a force in the Premier League again. If he can, Geordies will love him for it.”
Will the player likely get on against Brighton?
MS: “He won’t start, but I’m expecting him to come off the bench late in the game. Even if he just gets on for five minutes, it’ll be an important test for his ankle in a competitive situation. Bruce believes that he just needs to play after a couple of weeks on the training field and months of fitness and rehabilitation work.”
LK: “If he’s on the bench, he will come off it. Simple as. And the roar will be incredible, even if there will be a much reduced crowd at SJP this weekend.”
Are you excited to see Carroll back at NUFC?
MS: “Yes, I am. I always thought that Carroll would come back to the club, and it was good to see him finally come home. The Gazette reported Newcastle’s interest in Carroll in July – we understand that the club had been tracking him for months – and there were a lot of things that had to fall into place. Thankfully, they did.”
LK: “Very. He’s a player who has unfinished business at Newcastle. He basically had a peak 12 months on Tyneside from the January of promotion season to the December that year. He was unbelievable during that period – and I’m not sure he’s got close to that level since. Hopefully he can finish that chapter, not just this season, but for years to come – if his body allows.”
Assessing the Carroll transfer, do you view it as a shrewd move or a waste of a place in the 25-man squad?
MS: “It was a calculated gamble, and one that I would have taken. United needed cover for Joelinton, and, financially, the incentivised deal worked for the club. He’s only missed five games so far, and if he can stay fit, then it certainly will prove to be a shrewd move. Bruce says Carroll’s already raised the levels in training, and he should also push Joelinton.”
LK: “For me, it was a no lose for player and club. The only problem I have is in signing Carroll when you keep an injured Dwight Gayle, too. When you sign Carroll, Gayle should have been edged out the door. An offer was there but United chose to hang on to him.”