Oh, Carroll!

This has been an interesting week for West Ham fans, to say the least. After weeks of speculation about the future of Andy Carroll, we got the news that Liverpool (and most importantly, Carroll) had agreed on a loan deal that would see Carroll play this season at Upton Park.
In the frenzy and at times euphoria that seems to engulf fans and the media on August 31st, there was the usual lack of clarity over the terms of transfers and loan deals. This is not as big an issue when players are bought and sold, though the final cost of a player once “add ons” are included can make good buys look more like a blow out in the final wash.
Loan deals can be very murky, as the specifics of the deal often aren’t revealed until later, and clubs can sometimes do their best to keep it this way if the terms of the loan are better for the club at the other end of the deal. In this case that was always going to be difficult as Carroll is such a high profile player and the story had been around for most of the northern summer. Will he? Won’t he? First it was all go, with both clubs agreeing on a loan deal with the option of a full transfer at the end of the season, at the whopping price of 19 million, no less.
I may have been in the minority, but I was quietly relieved when it appeared this deal was off. Carroll was adamant that he wanted to fight for his place at Anfield, and didn’t want to go out on loan, even if this meant a guarantee of regular football. Kudos to you, Andy….and 19 million retained that really couldn’t be afforded anyway. Once Matt Jarvis was finally prised from Wolves for 11 million (including the “add ons”), the Carroll deal looked dead and buried. West Ham had got their big buy for the season, and Wolves had extracted every cent they could out of them for it.
Then we heard the news that the deal was back on, in fact it was happening. Done. Signed. Sorted. A season long loan deal with the option to complete a permanent deal for an “undisclosed” fee next summer. The word undisclosed always rings alarms bells for me. It is reportedly around the 17 million mark, this on top of the 1 million paid as part of the loan deal .Personally I think these fees should always be disclosed. Why not put your cards on the table now so everyone knows where they stand, including the fans. If Carroll were to become indispensible to the club, it puts the club in a very difficult position financially. If they can’t afford to buy him the only other option is to extend the loan, something both Liverpool and Carroll would be reluctant to accept.
As it turns out, it is now unclear whether “season long” loan means that at all. While cautiously elated (a strange state of mind familiar to most West Ham fans) with the Carroll deal, my biggest concern was whether there was an option for Liverpool to recall Carroll during the January transfer window. This concern was heightened when it became apparent that Liverpool had made a hash of the soap opera that was their wooing of Clint Dempsey. After making less than subtle advances towards Dempsey all summer, they offered Fulham a paltry 3 million. Really??? Not surprisingly, Fulham laughed in their collective face and Spurs promptly bought Dempsey from under Liverpool’s condescending nose. Egg on face, nose, everywhere. In the end Spurs got their man for the bargain price of 6 million.
Now we hear from Brendan Rodgers no less, that Liverpool has the option to bring Carroll back in the January transfer window, should they so choose.
Liverpool is left with essentially 2 strike options in Suarez and the unproven Borini, so they are desperate for reinforcement. They may look further afield in the January window if they have not solved their striker issues by then, but if Carroll is firing at West Ham, wouldn’t Rodgers bite the bullet (or be made to) and bring him back? Surely questions would be asked if he didn’t, short of securing a superstar in the next transfer window. Based on their current dealings, this seems highly unlikely.
To me it appears that West Ham agreed to this term expecting Liverpool to find a replacement before the close of the window on the 31st. They must have been nearly as disappointed as Liverpool when this didn’t happen.
To make matters worse, the hamstring injury that Carroll picked up on Saturday after playing so well appears to be worse than first anticipated. West Ham fans will have an anxious wait until the damage is fully assessed and an announcement is made, hopefully soon. If he is out for some time, there remains the real prospect that Carroll’s time at West Ham could be brief. There would be nothing worse than Carroll coming back from injury in mid to late November, finding form before Christmas and then being gratefully plucked back north by a repentant Rodgers.
The injury to Carroll also means West Ham would have their own forward shortage. Vaz Te, Cole and Maiga don’t look half as useful without Carroll there. Now is the time of the free agent. Those players who have bided their time, waiting for the desperate club to take whatever slim pickings they can get, and make them pay more than they are worth.
I hope both clubs avoid this route, particularly with two prominent free agents, Michael Owen and Emile Heskey. Both are past their prime, injury prone and not worth the wages they demand. I have watched all through the transfer window, hoping I would not see the words West Ham and Emile Heskey in the same sentence. Now that the window is closed, it would be bitterly disappointing to see such a backward looking move at the 11th hour. On behalf of all West Ham fans, I beg of you, don’t do it Sam!

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2 thoughts on “Oh, Carroll!

  1. Pingback: Carroll: King For a Season? | Villager at Large

  2. OK, confirmation today that Carroll will be out for at least 6 weeks. Not holding my breath as hamstring injuries can go on and on…at least with the two international breaks there is time for Carroll to recover without missing games every week. Not such good news for England, however…

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