We all know it, we all saw it. Elbows flying all over the place, long balls towards the giants up front, and bloody heads after going for it. Yes, this is English football… or at least it was.
Football revolution is forcing the change upon everyone. Obviously, a team can stick to the old principles, but sooner or later, they’ll have to adjust. Adjust or be forgotten. One of the victims of the revolution is a prime example of what being an English striker means – Andy Caroll.
Even though it often gets a lot of criticism, there’s just something so bloody beautiful about Andy Caroll and Ryan Shawcross battling it out in an uncompromised fight for the ball. Add in some hard flying tackles and you got yourself prime-time TV. The atmosphere in the stands in England simply invites for it. With the crowd only a few meters away from the pitch, and the thrilling noise mixed with chants, insults, and passion in every inch of the stadium, how else can you play but by getting stuck in and going for each ball like it’s the last one you’ll ever touch.
Revolution, however, didn’t agree.
Managers nowadays want their strikers to be mobile. Not only to open up channels for their teammates in the attack, but also to be the first line of defense. While Caroll isn’t a player without technique by any means, there are multiple factors that led to his decline. First, and obvious, is a lack of discipline off the pitch. Caroll developed a reputation as a party lover, which is generally related to bad eating and sleeping habits, leading to worse performances on the football pitch. The enormous pressure he was faced with after his big transfer to Liverpool didn’t help, and Caroll is a good example of how pressure can get to a player.
It’s a shame really. Andy Caroll was an obvious fan-favorite at Newcastle. The type of players that all the fans can get behind and feel as if he’s really representing them. Caroll scored 11 goals and added 7 assist in Newcastle’s return season to the Premier League. This attracted serious interest from Liverpool, who went on to splash €40 million for his services. After failing to make an impact, it all went downhill. Caroll was often injured, didn’t score much and couldn’t be relied upon.
In the aftermath, there was a moment of triumph for Andy Caroll. Small, short, and brief, but what seemed like the moment of true happines. The season is 2015/16. West Ham was playing their last season at Boleyn Ground. Slaven Bilic was at the helm, and along with the leadership of Payet, Caroll seemed to have resurrected himself, scoring seven goals and feeling like an important part of the team. West Ham was in Champions League spots contention all season, and even as they failed to qualify, the smell of satisfaction was in the air. At their last home match of the season, West Ham players with Bilic walked around the stadium to greet their fans. Caroll looked as happy as ever – as if he’s found a home, a place where he belongs. In the very symbolic turn of events, Caroll disappeared with his new home, the Boleyn ground, both ran over by the evolution, both gone in the song of bubbles.