Is Andy Carroll now drinking in the very last chance saloon?

The England striker must stay fit and prove he can shine under Bilic

When we signed Andy Carroll, he was hailed as something of a messiah. He had been fantastic on loan and towards the end of his loan season you could barely hear the whistle blowing for Kevin Nolan’s multiple fouls over the chants from the home fans of ‘we want you to stay’. Stay he did, but since then poor Andy’s had a rough time at Upton Park.

Injuries and red cards have limited his opportunities to shine on the pitch and a recent injury kept him out of action for seven months. Carroll has worked extremely hard to return to action ‘early’ (well, for him), but as with any return from a lengthy lay-off , it’s difficult to see how the giant Geordie will fit back into the squad when considering how much has changed. Carroll was a signing made by previous manager Sam Allardyce and one of his greatest attributes was his ability to link up with teammate and friend Kevin Nolan — another name that has since fallen to the wayside at Upton Park.

So how will our £15 million man fit into a EMILY PULHAM @makingthemarrow Andy Carroll Is Andy Carroll now drinking in the very last chance saloon? The England striker must stay fit and prove he can shine under Bilic Injury hit: Andy Carroll has spent too much time on the sidelines team that doesn’t include his familiar training wheels of Allardyce and Nolan? Is this the last chance saloon for Carroll, or can he work his way into new manager Slaven Billic’s plans? Carroll is returning to a new-look Hammers side who have claimed scalps at the Emirates, Anfield and the Ethiad but we haven’t advanced too far — we are yet to beat Leicester after two attempts

We’ve changed our style of play considerably and are playing some faster and drastically more attractive football but I still think he’s got a lot to contribute to this Hammers squad. After all, Nolan and Allardyce may have left, but some of their legacy has remained, and not exactly to a negative effect. According to a recent Row Zed chart, West Ham are still playing the highest number of long-balls in the league — meaning we still need a big man like Carroll to win those balls.

Drive enough balls into the man and the goals will inevitably come. Also, with Carroll, it’s not just goals the man is capable of providing. The true measure of what Andy Carroll brings to a team isn’t just to do with Sam sticking him up front as a lone striker, or flicking a ball on to Kevin Nolan. Andy Carroll is the most well-rounded striker that Slaven Billic has at his disposal. Yes, we don’t always see Andy Carroll scoring in every game, but we do constantly see him clearing the ball off the line whilst defending at the other end. He continuously did this last season and he did it again in the dis – appointing Capital One Cup defeat to Leicester City.

This adds to the big man’s value; you just don’t see Mauro Zarate, Enner Valencia or Diafra Sakho making the effort to drop back and defend that strongly. I’d argue that preventing goals at one end is just as valuable as scoring them at the other. Sure, we need to see Carroll start scoring but provided he can stay fit, he’s still an incredibly useful part of West Ham’s line up. He is unique in our squad in what he offers — a tough, tall, defensive forward who can line up a shot like it’s nobody’s business.

This offers Billic versatility in his starting line ups and the ability to change tactics depending on what team we are facing. There have been games of late where we’ve been crying out for the big lad to play a role. Now, if he can stay fit, he’ll get a chance to shine and a chance to do so without the shadows of Nolan and Allardyce looming over him.

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