There has been a growing feeling on social media that Andy Carroll deserves more minutes in the coming weeks.
These have been fuelled further by the striker’s own instagram post. This was a photo of Carroll in training gear with his arms outstretched. Some have considered this to be a signal that he is ready to play a bigger part over the coming weeks.
A recent article by the Chronicle stated that Carroll is frustrated by his lack of game time, but he is keen to extend his second spell on Tyneside. His current contract finishes at the end of the current season, but contract talks are scheduled before it does expire.
This writer believes that Carroll should get more minutes over the next two matches, but I’m not in agreement with some that he deserves to start in the Premier League. The 32-year-old lacks the mobility to be effective in the current system. He isn’t able to press and defend at the same intensity as Gayle or Joelinton, even if the former isn’t very effective at doing this either.
In his last Premier League start against Aston Villa, he struggled to have much of an impact on the game. Admittedly, the team wasn’t set up to get the best from him, with no natural wingers in the line-up. Carroll had two shots and won five aerial duels, but he did nothing of note in the final third to either create or have a big chance.
At this time of his career, Carroll is best used as an impact substitute. His only goal of his second spell came against Leicester City in a 10 minute cameo. During this appearance, he attempted three shots and managed to get the team back into a game. His presence allows the team to move to a more direct approach and his presence does unsettle opposition defences.
Against West Brom, he was brought on for the final minute of the match. The cynical view on social media is that Steve Bruce decided to do this as Carroll’s contract is weighted heavily on appearances. However, this was an occasion where the 32-year-old should have been introduced earlier. In the closing stages, we offered nothing in attack and West Brom were dominating proceedings.
Carroll would have provided a focal point and allowed the team to relieve pressure on themselves by hitting long balls to him. There may have been an opportunity to counter on West Brom should he have managed to get the ball under his spell. When matches are tight, this is when Carroll is at his most effective.
There are teething issues with the new system, but it should be continued with, as there are signs that it can be effective. This is especially true at the start of matches. Against Wolves and West Brom, we looked threatening in the first half, even if the final ball has been missing.
However, we have regularly tired and become very easy to play against in the last quarter of matches. Against Wolves and West Brom, we ended up camped in our own half for long periods and required a slice of luck to emerge without a loss in either game.
It is during this period that we would benefit from bringing Carroll on to provide a focal point and move to a more direct approach. If matches are tight, he is capable of creating a match-winning moment for the team.
The jury is out on whether Carroll deserves another season on Tyneside. He will never be the player we remember from 2011, but he can still produce a moment of quality to turn a game. In our current predicament, he could yet have a big part to play from the bench.