Andy Carroll’s importance to West Ham cannot be understated as the forward has returned from injury to spearhead the Hammers attack in recent weeks. After receiving criticism for his plagued injury record, many question marks were formulated by the media and supporters, as he continued to prove an unreliable asset.
Nonetheless, with a player like Andy Carroll at Slaven Bilic’s disposal, the England international has the ability to guide West Ham to a top ten finish. Figuring the quality of opposition in the top six, surely that would be deemed a successful season – especially considering the bleak four months that occurred following the move to the London Stadium at the beginning of the season.
Opposition supporters of bigger clubs may consider the former Newcastle striker a liability with his injury record and failings at Liverpool, but the Hammers number 9 adds a unique factor – which is ideally suited to the style of play Slaven Bilic implements regularly.
Carroll returned from a knee injury and was shepherded into proceedings at the London Stadium after a four-month layoff in early December. Since then the talisman has found the net on five occasions and helped guide West Ham away from the uncomfortable stare down at a potential relegation battle.
West Ham will finish in the top ten if Carroll is fit I hear you say? Not necessarily but their chances increase tenfold as the quality Carroll possesses guarantees the Hammers have a natural goalscorer at the ready. The player offers a focal point for the Hammers, and as we have witnessed in recent weeks against teams in a similar position to the East Londoners, Carroll’s quality has shone through like none other during these games.
In fact, Carroll doesn’t have just the quality to finish chances, but one other invaluable contribution is his outstanding work-rate. The forward tirelessly runs himself into the ground on a regular basis for the Hammers – something other clubs desperately lack.
When you consider teams such as Stoke, West Brom, and Southampton, they all find themselves in a similar situation to the Irons – too much quality to suffer relegation, and lacking the quality to combat the top six – but none of these teams has a player of the quality of Andy Carroll up front.
Further showing the importance of Andy Carroll to a mid-table team, the Hammers should be aiming to finish in the top half.
At the London Stadium, Carroll stands in a class of his own as his team-mates and competitors to his first-team spot Jonathan Calleri, Andre Ayew, and Ashley Fletcher have mustered up an abysmal two goals in thirty-one appearances between the trio. Meanwhile, Carroll has already scored five goals in just nine games since he returned from injury.
It’s not only his goals, but his link-up play allows skilful and graceful players such as Manuel Lanzini and Michail Antonio to become more involved in the game. In-fact, aerially Carroll tends to win an average of 9 duels per game, allowing midfield runners to join into proceedings. Has Bilic got any other option than to protect and offer comfort, Carroll?
Throughout his West Ham career, Carroll has proven an invaluable team-mate and crucial to Bilic as the Croatian manager adapts his tactics. It was those successful tactics of hard-work combined with style and grace that proved so successful for the East Londoners last campaign. With the giant Carroll at the forefront of what the Hammers hope to achieve, keeping him fit remains the single highest priority for Slaven Bilic between now and May.