Andy Carroll is a big problem as he is only doing one of three Salomon Rondon jobs
Andy Carroll was a big talking point when arriving at St James Park.
Mike Ashley waiting until deadline day for maximum PR headlines and to deflect from the owner’s failure to properly strengthen the squad.
The media were full of returning local hero and Steve Bruce claiming Andy Carroll would be ready to play in a couple of weeks.
The reality of course was that after being released by West Ham, the striker was still injured and nowhere near able to be playing again.
It was two months before Andy Carroll even managed a few minutes off the bench and four months before able to start a game.
Amazingly though the PR/Media deflection is still largely working, at least to an extent.
Mike Ashley was quite happy to see last season’s only two reliable goalscorers leave and made no attempt to keep either of them. Replacing them with a £40m striker who prefers playing out wide and whose best ever season was eight goals in the stellar Austrian league, along with a free transfer veteran striker who has spent most of his eight years since leaving Tyneside out injured. Never managing double figures in a season since 11 PL goals for Newcastle in 19 games in 2010/11 before Mike Ashley sold him.
Neither Perez or Rondon are particularly prolific goalscorers and got 23 goals between them in 69 combined PL appearances last season.
With now over half the season gone: Andy Carroll, Joelinton, Muto and Gayle have one goal between them in 46 combined PL appearances so far and even if you add in ASM and Almiron, it it still only three goals in 77 PL appearances so far.
I have to say, I am yet to see any plan whatsosever from Steve Bruce on how Newcastle United intend to score goals. Apart that is from hoping to get far enough up the pitch and close enough, so that on set-pieces we can get the centre-backs up the pitch, throw the ball in and hope we get a lucky break and the likes of Clark, Lascelles, Fernandez, Schar (as was the case against Everton) or whoever gets on the end of something.
Andy Carroll has managed four starts this past month and both at the match and in the pub I hear people giving him rave reviews. No disrespect to him but this is what we are now reduced to.
If we had bought the two essential reliable looking (both for goals and fitness) goalscorers in the summer AND brought Andy Carroll in, then that would have looked like some kind of a plan.
Instead we have this…mess.
I saw this on Twitter this morning:
24 – Andy Carroll won 24 aerial duels against Everton; the most in a single Premier League game since Opta started recording this data in 2006-07. Giant. pic.twitter.com/jK7PmGIuw2
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 28, 2019
An interesting stat and tells us what we all know, throw the ball up in the air and every chance Andy Carroll will head it.
Where does it actually get us though and what is his impact overall?
Salomon Rondon was a pleasant surprise last season, many of us bewildered as to why Rafa Benitez was determined to get the striker, even on loan, despite Mike Ashley doing everything to thwart him, yet very quickly once he was fit he showed why. Clearly not one of the greatest we have seen when we have been lucky enough to see Shearer, Cole, Ferdinand and so on, not even in the same league really as say Loic Remy in terms of pure goalscoring ability.
However, Rafa had wanted Salomon Rondon because he could do three big jobs.
Score a decent amount of goals.
Create a decent amount of goals.
Work his socks off defending from the front for the team.
The reality is that with Andy Carroll he is only capable of doing one of those things in this Newcastle team.
He hasn’t and won’t score many/any goals. There are only 18 PL games left and I don’t even remember a keeper having to make a proper save from him.
Creating goals has been a lot more productive. Andy Carroll has had a role in a number of goals, that excellent cross for Shelvey when Southampton stood back and let him do it, with the rest of them pretty much all from set-pieces or the follow up to set-pieces, where Carroll is allowed to stand in the box and if the cross is the right height he can usually put the ball back into a decent area. Schar yesterday and of course Almiron against Palace for that smash and grab win.
This is all great if it was/is a last 20/25 minute plan but not as any kind of a 90 minute attacking plan, if indeed one of those actually existed.
The other big problem with Andy Carroll of course, which nobody appears to want to acknowledge, is that he is also a liability when it comes to Steve Bruce’s defensive plan. Yes, when on rare occasions NUFC are in the lead and Newcastle pack the box and the opposition just put hopeful crosses in, then nobody better than Carroll to stand there and head them.
However, in normal play and normal passages of play like against Everton, Carroll’s total lack of mobility is excruciating.
Perez and Rondon made it so difficult for other teams to build attacks and even more so once Almiron arrived, they then started really pressing on the opposition at the right times.
However, when Andy Carroll plays, the other teams just easily play it around and next thing they are in our half with minimal hassle.
Joelinton isn’t that mobile either but puts the graft in to try and help make up for Carroll, whilst with Almiron it is even more the case. Imagine if the Paraguayan played in a normal team where he was asked mainly to attack?
When you then also have the ponderous Shelvey in midfield, it makes the task even tougher. No wonder all the other teams dominate the play so easily against United.
Andy Carroll has done more than I thought he would, such were my low expectations of him even getting on the pitch.
However, we desperately need him back on the bench as a supersub and have a proper attacking plan, one which involves a new goalscorer who should have been bought in the summer. I reckon there is around £28m left of what Charnley promised was available to spend this season, get Gayle and Muto sold and add that to the £28m for a proper goalscorer in January.
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