Tony Cottee, Columnist
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Hammers legend Tony Cottee looks ahead to the Aston Villa clash on Sunday and assesses the ability of Andy Carroll
After the disappointment of our recent performances, especially away from home, it was vital that we got the win on Saturday and it seems to me that Andy Carroll made a real difference.
I saw him come on at Fulham on Wednesday and people were saying to me that I hope he doesn’t break down again, but I was not surprised to see him looking so fit.
Long gone are the days when we used to be strapped up, given a pain killer and told to get out on the pitch. If anything the players are given too long to get fit these days.
Andy almost scored with his first touch at Fulham, where three sloppy goals cost us again, but clearly he made a big difference against Swansea on Saturday.
He makes Kevin Nolan play better too as they have such a great understanding, but I was delighted Andy scored as if he hadn’t and then didn’t against Villa on Sunday, the doubters would be out again.
It is difficult to gauge where Carroll is in terms of Premier League strikers as his career has been hampered by injury, but when he is fit I think he is a match for any one in the league.
Comparing him to strikers of the past is difficult. Though he is an old-fashioned centre forward, I think there is so much more to his game.
The nearest comparison I can make to Carroll is David Cross, but what a comparison. Him and Pop Robson were two of my idols. ‘Crossy’ was fearless, a good target man and a great finisher.
The transfer window is now closed and though I am in favour of it because it allows youngsters more chance to play, I understand why people dislike the madness of it all.
West Ham have strengthened their squad, but for me the most important piece of business was keeping hold of Mo Diame.
Sunday’s clash at Villa is another huge one and it is on their home ground where they have struggled.
At the start of the season I would have been surprised to see them down there, but it seems their youngsters are not quite ready and the likes of Richard Dunne and Ron Vlaar have not played enough.
Christian Benteke and Charles N’Zogbia are dangerous, but with Carroll back I think West Ham can step it up and play more like they do at home.
It won’t be easy though and I will settle for a 1-1 draw.