It was December 11th 2010 as I sat in the West Corner of the Sir John Hall stand in St. James’ Park, braving the cold Saturday night air to watch my beloved Newcastle United take on Liverpool in what was Alan Pardew’s first game in charge since the controversial dismissal of Chris Hughton. We had led twice through a pair of Scousers; club captain at the time Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton striking either side of a Dirk Kuyt equaliser.
As the game ticked down towards the 90 minute mark and a vital 3 points for the Magpies was seemingly in sight, the ball fell to Andy Carroll some 25 yards from the Liverpool goal. More often than not in these situations, the striker would usually hold on to the ball and simply “run down the clock”, maybe pass it to a team mate to frustrate the opposition. But Big Andy had other ideas. The giant target man took one touch in front of a statuesque Liverpool back four before rifling a thunderous left-footed shot that nearly broke the back of Pepe Reina’s net as he dived in vain and utter desperation.
The game ended a few short minutes later, and us Geordies were sent home happy with an early Christmas present and a new number 9 to idolise. Little did any of us know of the fateful events that were to occur in the January transfer window that was to follow.
Of course, Carroll made the move from Tyneside to Merseyside for a record £35 million and Geordie hearts were broken once more. It seemed like a disaster at the time for Newcastle but now, eighteen months later, things are certainly different.
The immense amount of Carroll’s transfer fee and the expectation of the Anfield faithful have obviously been weighing heavily on the big man’s shoulders. He has found it difficult in front of goal since his move and his Liverpool goal scoring rate pales in comparison to when he was at Newcastle. A brief upturn in his form towards the end of last season did indicate that Carroll was finally finding his feet in the red shirt of Liverpool, as he earned himself a call up to the England Euro 2012 squad. His headed goal against Sweden in the group stages was a highlight of the tournament.
But the fact still remains that Carroll simply has not been good enough at club level since his move away from Tyneside. Perhaps a return home would do him some good. It was reported a few days ago that Newcastle issued a bid to take Carroll back to St. James’ on a season long loan with a view to a permanent deal. This was quite a bolt out of the blue, but it remains an extremely intriguing prospect.
First of all, it has been widely claimed that Carroll would not necessarily be a regular starter at Anfield under new boss Brendan Rodgers if he were to stay, given the type of player he is. Rodgers’ passing philosophy would not suit a player of Carroll’s physicality, and with new striker Fabio Borini arriving at Liverpool this summer from Roma, he would probably find himself sitting on the bench more often than not.
Although Newcastle’s initial bid has since been rejected by Liverpool, the saga goes on and it will no doubt have a lot more twists and turns before it comes to its eventual outcome.
There have been a lot of questions posed about this issue relating to whether or not the Newcastle fans would welcome him back should he return. Well, speaking as one of them, I wouldn’t welcome him back with open arms, but I’m far from against the idea. I actually believe a return to Tyneside could potentially work wonders for the young England man’s stuttering career. I mean, if Brendan Rodgers would just be up front and honest about it and say that he doesn’t see a place for Carroll in his long term plans, then why not? A black-and-white-clad front three of Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Andy Carroll would surely give opposing defenders nightmares as they wake in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, panicking about how to contain the triple-headed monster.
That is to say if he would get into the team at all. And here lies a downfall in the potential move. Ba and Cisse worked magic together last season, along with talismanic Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa, so maybe Carroll would end up just sitting on the bench if he did come back, which he might as well stay at Liverpool to do if that’s the case. He’s a young, hungry, towering centre-forward. He needs to be starting games on a regular basis. It all depends on what Alan Pardew would want to do with him should the move go through.
But don’t forget about the Africa Cup of Nations in January. Our Senegalese hitmen will be off for a while then, so Carroll would be an ideal replacement for them. There are so many factors involved and there are of course other suitors for his signature. Fulham and Aston Villa have been recently linked with Carroll, along with AC Milan and West Ham; who’s manager Sam Allardyce has a much more direct approach when it comes to tactics, which would no doubt suit a player of Carroll’s height and physical stature down to the ground.
I truly believe that it would be a good move for Newcastle should they manage to bring Carroll back home. Regardless of what’s gone on in the past; the heartbreaking circumstances in which he left such a gaping hole following his departure, I would love to see him pull on a black and white shirt again, even if it is only for one season.
Maybe this is his chance to resurrect his faltering career. If both Newcastle and Liverpool could come to some sort of arrangement, I genuinely hope he takes it with both hands.