After just one game with the big man leading the line, already Andy Carroll’s importance to this year’s campaign has become apparent.
In a post-match interview captain Kevin Nolan spoke of the ‘lift’ Carroll’s arrival had provided to the squad, and the work-rate and confidence during Saturday’s game against Fulham was there for all to see. Granted Fulham’s retention of possession was poor, but West Ham were able to pressure the ball much higher up the pitch led by Carroll charging down the West Londoner’s rear guard when on the ball. It’s no coincidence that some of the best teams on the planet – namely Barcelona and Spain, hunt the ball down as early as possible in order to regain possession in more advance positions.
It really was great to see down at the Boleyn, but more importantly, so was the support provided to Carroll. Nolan and Ricardo Vaz Te played in more advanced positions than a 4-5-1 formation would suggest, with the Hammers shape looking more like 4-3-2-1.
At Swansea we were woeful, Cole was left horrendously isolated, but with Carroll now in ranks, hopefully we may have seen the back of a formation that clearly does not suit our midfield one bit. Noble, Diame, Noble and Diarra work hard but are simply not mobile enough to support a lone striker from traditional midfield roles. Knockdowns and flick-ons are a major dimension of Carroll’s game and it appears Big Sam has already recognised this.
Yes against more capable sides we will need to pack out the midfield, however providing support to Carroll, whose awareness and vision is fantastic, will be vital to the influence and impact the big man’s game can bring. The signing of Andy Carroll may have raised a few eyebrows among the Upton Park faithful, but already he looks a great acquisition and may just lead us to safety.