After such an influx of players this summer, if we want to create space and funds for new signings in January, we will need to shift out some current players – and there’s two that spring to my mind straight away. Currently, 29-year-old striker Andy Carroll and 30-year-old defender Winston Reid are in recovery periods for injuries at the back end of a season in which neither shone.
So is it time to clear out the physio room at West Ham, or have these two long-term players earned a chance to stay in this new-look Hammers side? Carroll initially joined us on a season-long loan deal in August 2012, a move that became permanent for a club record £15million less than a year later. Reid has been with the club for eight years, joining in August 2010 for a small fee.
They got off to differing starts. Carroll was a smash hit on loan in 2012, and at the end of the season, the chants of ‘we want you to stay’ rang out in full force across the Boleyn. Reid, then playing under Avram Grant in 2010, did not look as if he should be playing professional football, and was relegated with West Ham in his first season.
In just three years, his fortunes turned significantly as he was the 2013 Hammer of The Year. Carroll has since struggled almost endlessly with injury, and has become a rare vision on the pitch. Both have become mainstays over their years at the club, and strongly contributed to West Ham United over the years.
Winston Reid has put in incredible shifts as defender and sometimes-captain and will always be revered for scoring that final, winning goal at the Boleyn. Carroll has strength in the air that is unmatched in the league, and that overhead wonder goal against Palace still provides goosebumps to even the most stoic of fans.
The trouble is – we’re just not seeing them on the pitch at the moment. When we do, it’s to less impact than we’ve come to expect from them. Both struggled to stay injury-free last season, and Winston Reid played just 1,452 minutes of league football out of roughly 2,520 minutes, appearing in just 17 games.
Carroll fared far worse, playing just 742 league minutes – equivalent to just over eight 90 minute games of football. Carroll only managed three goals, yet somehow accrued a multitude of cards – which isn’t a helpful contribution, nor is it enough of one from a player of his caliber. It’s also not the first season which has seen Carroll waylaid for extensive periods.
Heading into this season, both players are unable to feature for two months each after surgery to repair significant injuries. Carroll has had an operation on his ankle, while Reid is recovering from surgery on a knee problem.
So do we keep the two well-known but currently crocked players, or attempt to cut our losses and find nice farms elsewhere where they can run around safely and freely and not be on our wage bill? After all, in the pre-Pellegrini era, the fear of selling players, Carroll in particular, was that we’d fall out of the frying pan and into the fryer – and with West Ham’s annual disappointing transfer ‘policy’, there was a great deal of sense in sticking with the devils we know, so that we could at least aim for a full roster of players.
But this year – things really could be looking up. We’ve signed different devils – expensive devils, proven devils. Devils with better injury track records, who might just survive the curse of Chadwell Heath. We could be moving forward – and if we’re doing that, our wage bill needs to be considered and curtailed to allow us to have money to pay for progress.
Unfortunately for Carroll, his injury track record just isn’t enough to keep the genuinely talented, yet deeply injury-prone player on the wage bill. Should he be willing to take a pay as you play deal, it would be a fairer return on investment for the club and the fans – but we can’t rely on him to be fit when we need him.
Reid still has legs – both figuratively and literally – and has the potential to work his way back into squad, should he be willing to start from the bench and earn his place in the team again. He has leadership, drive and, should he recover his fitness, he could be the one with the potential to fight back – and under Pellegrini he just might look like a great footballer once again, too.