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Unpopular opinion – Best part of Andy Carroll signing for Newcastle United

11 months ago

Andy Carroll is back.

After 16 transfer windows where the newspapers have told us every six months that he was heading back to Tyneside, finally at the 17th time of asking, they can point to their ‘exclusive’ being proved correct this time.

If/when Andy Carroll did return it was always going to be a media-fest.

After all, it was a stand out moment in Mike Ashley’s ownership when Andy Carroll was sold back in January 2011.

So many angles…

Mike Ashley sacking Chris Hughton despite the brilliant job he was doing. Despite minimal transfer backing, Hughton had NUFC safely in mid-table after instant promotion as champions (with 102 points), having only weeks earlier before his sacking beaten Sunderland 5-1 and won at the Emirates with an Andy Carroll goal…Ashley finding Chris Hughton not the pushover he’d imagined, the manager refusing to go along with a plan of potentially selling one or more star players in the next (January 2011) transfer window.

Then we had the replacement, Alan Pardew having been sacked from his League One job, Newcastle fans left scratching  their head.

With rumours of Andy Carroll going to be sold, the recently installed manager stated that 100% Andy Carroll was going nowhere.

Mike Ashley then selling the striker who had just turned 22 for £35m and refusing to allow any of the money to be spent on reinforcing the squad.

This pivotal time set the trend, Alan Pardew humiliated and becoming the first in a sequence of desperate managers/head coaches who would agree to have no power and only be there to train and pick the team. That sequence temporarily broken with Rafa Benitez but picked up again with Steve Bruce arriving.

If  Andy Carroll ever came back to Newcastle United it was always going to be a huge story but I have been bemused by some of the headlines, claiming that this has set alight the transfer window for Newcastle fans, local hero returns, supporters excited by the signing and so on.

I think it is very interesting that Andy Carroll has been signed and loads to debate but for me the excitement/debate isn’t really about any expectation that he will do anything on the pitch.

Andy Carroll only scored 14 Premier League goals for Newcastle so it was all about unrealised potential at the time he was sold, those near first six months of the 2010/11 PL season seeing 11 goals in 19 goals and as for ‘local hero’? He could well have become one if he hadn’t been sold but I don’t anybody who would call him that (local hero) now.

The big larger than life Andy Carroll story is of a club being mad enough to pay £35m over eight years ago and then that £35m striker scoring so few goals and playing so few games. More famous for his injuries than goals.

That half season when he was first choice for Newcastle in the top tier and scored 11 goals, sums it up. It still remains his most successful spell in football, fully eight and a half years later.

It is 16 months since Andy Carroll scored in the Premier League and only three PL goals in the last 28 months. In fact, only five times in these past 28 months has the now 30 year old completed a full 90 minutes in the top tier.

Never getting double figures in any league season apart from at Newcastle, in the last eight and a half years only 39 PL goals scored, averaging less than five goals a season.

Predictably, we have seen a lot of headlines (and quotes from Steve Bruce amongst other) along the lines of ‘When fully fit and staying fit, Andy Carroll would be…’ – Which is the biggest problem really, we have seen it throughout his seven years at West Ham.

With so many injuries and so few games, never mind goals, especially in recent years, it would be a minor miracle if Andy Carroll stays fit for any length of time and manages even a few goals.

Mike Ashley holding back the transfer until the very final hours of the transfer window for PR purposes (some claims the deal was first discussed with Andy Carroll back as far as May and certainly it appears to be at least weeks ago that talks were held about him returning), the signing predictably being big on headlines but short on any real scrutiny. Hardly any real focus on the fact he arrives totally unfit, having had no pre-season, not going to be available until at last September by all accounts…if not breaking down yet again. Instead of the Ashley PR stunt of it getting last minute headlines, why wasn’t Andy Carroll signed back in early July when he could then have stood some kind of chance of getting fit for the season?

He is a news story but as a signing, I just see it as a case of if Newcastle get absolutely anything out of Carroll it would be a big bonus.

To be honest, it might be an unpopular opinion with some (especially the headline writers) – but the best part of Andy Carroll signing for Newcastle United was that Dwight Gayle wasn’t sold.

When I saw the first claims on Thursday morning of Carroll coming, I thought here we go again, Andy Carroll headline used to swamp Gayle leaving for £15m or whatever, helping to hide the full extent of yet another transfer window that has fallen short of promises/expectations. Nowhere near a total disaster on paper but with a net spend of less than £30m not exactly what we were led to expect.

As it turns out, ironically it looks like injury prevented any sale of Dwight Gayle, Steve Bruce revealing yesterday that due to a calf injury he hasn’t even seen the striker train so far.

I know that it will be the case but I do still find it astonishing that if given the choice, there are Newcastle fans (and journalists seemingly) who would have happily taken a trade of Dwight Gayle leaving if Andy Carroll came in.

Obviously he needs to get fit and he hasn’t got a brilliant goalscoring record in the Premier League BUT if Joelinton gets injured then I honestly can’t see any other likely scorer of goals, apart from Gayle.

As for Andy Carroll, good luck to him and I really hope it works out, but I long ago stopped having dreams about really good things happening at St James Park whilst Mike Ashley is controlling/manipulating everything.


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