When West Ham’s Facebook page posted comments recently about Andy Carroll hoping to force his way into England contention in time for the European Championships, unsurprisingly, replies left by fans were brutally blunt. Carroll’s latest groin injury which ruled him out of the trip to Swansea last month may only have been a minor one, but it just served to add to the feeling that West Ham fans are destined never to see the sort of form which the striker produced in his Newcastle days, which caught the eye of Sam Allardyce in his short-lived stint as Magpies boss and which persuaded Liverpool to pay £35million for him.
Diafra Sakho’s injury and the team’s failure to score in the next three games revealed West Ham’s over-reliance on him as their main goal threat, which only serves to add to fan frustration at Carroll’s ineffectiveness. With all the signs from the boardroom being that there is no spare money to spend in the January transfer window, but the Sakho gap being in desperate need of filling, could the answer be for West Ham to cut their losses on Carroll and see who might be willing to take a punt on him – someone like Allardyce, for example?
The thought of such a dyed in the wool Magpie turning out in the red and white of Sunderland may have some fans on both sides of the Tyne/ Wear divide choking on their cornflakes, but it is a move that makes sense (and for the record, Carroll’s mother’s family are Mackems). If West Ham manager Slaven Bilic wants to resort to the big lad up front tactic, in Nikica Jelavic he has a player who can fill that role, he knows well, he signed rather than inherited, and who does not have Carroll’s injury record.
Allardyce likes to bring in players he knows, and having only taken over at Sunderland in October, has not yet had the transfer window of opportunity to do that. He has spoken in the past of how he spotted the young Carroll in his Newcastle days and how what he saw there persuaded him to sign him for West Ham.
When he was at Bolton, Allardyce teams were built around Kevin Davies, straight out of the same mould as Carroll, and it served everyone concerned pretty well. After such a poor first half of the season, Sunderland need to jump start their season pretty fast if they want to avoid a nail-biting end to it – and a fresh start with a manager who believes in him may be the tonic Carroll needs as well. Bilic would surely welcome the chance to shuffle his pack in January, but to do that, he must sell.
Allardyce would surely be tempted, and for Carroll, taking on a challenge like that would be the perfect way to silence the snipers and critics. Far-fetched? Stranger things have happened, you know.