Previous Club: Liverpool
Previous Division: Premier League
Transfer Date: 19/06/2013
Reported Fee: £15,500,000
The longest West Ham United transfer saga of the summer has been concluded! Despite only having an offer accepted for Liverpool striker Andy Carroll three weeks ago, it feels like we've been in negotiations (stuttering negotiations, if you believe the papers) for an eternity.
The media tried their damnedest to make this transfer into a will-they-won't-they soap opera, but, truth be told, I think we've all know for a while that this transfer would happen. At least, I can say with certainty that I've believed it would happen for at least a couple of months now.
As with other new transfers in, I want to focus on Carroll's stats and inform readers on what he can bring to the team. Unlike with other new transfers in, we already know what he brings to the team, having had him at the Boleyn last season.
Carroll is big and strong, great in the air, a real throw back. He can't play on the floor, he's a bully in and around the box, and he's a real throw back the days gone by. Well, that's the perception, isn't it?
I don't think that's the case. I felt last season that Carroll was given a bit of a raw deal by people discussing his footballing ability. He gets a great amount of credit for his aerial presence (which I'll come on to), but his ability to pass and play with his feet is often ignored. Okay, so his overall pass success rate from last season is a meagre 61%, but this doesn't paint a full picture.
If we only include passes played with his feet, this jumps up to 79% passing accuracy, which is a pretty good return. If we then remove long balls and just focus on his short passing game, it jumps up even higher to 81%.
Just to provide a bit of context, Mark Noble's short passing produced an 88% success rate, and Joe Cole's 84%.
Despite bringing his overall success rate down rather dramatically, it would be amiss to suggest that Andy Carroll cannot use his head. We all know that he can. We've seen some beautifully controlled flick on's since he rocked up last August, and he is a constant danger in the air. In fact, Carroll contested 345 aerial duels last season (14.4 per appearance), winning 224 (9.3 per appearance), 65%.
(For reference, an aerial duel is when a player goes for a header in direct competition with an opposition player, rather than going up with no challenge)
Carroll was successful with 124 of his 321 headed passes for West Ham last season, a success rate of 39%. Initially, this seems to be a low score, and it's impact on his overall passing success rate is evident. However, after looking into this a little more, you see that 39% is actually a very good rate.
Carroll won more aerial duels per game than any other player in the Premier League last season. He was closely followed by Peter Crouch of Stoke City, and Christian Benteke of Aston Villa in second and third respectively.
Between them, they attempted 1,250 headed passes last season, and were accurate with 488 of these. Crouch managed an overall success rate of 39% (204/519), whilst Benteke managed an identical success rate (160/410).
Contesting more duels per game than his competitors means that more of Carroll's attempted passes were played whilst under pressure from an opponent than either Crouch or Benteke, suggesting a greater difficulty of pass. Either way though, Carroll's headed passing success rate is right up there among the best target men in the division.
Another important element that Carroll brings to us as a side is his defensive work. We've all seen him heading clearance after clearance from corners when the defence is under the cosh, I even recall him sitting and playing out the final few minutes of one particular game as a centre half!
In fact, Carroll made 60 clearances last season, 2.5 per appearance. This makes him the 90th most frequent clearer (if that's the word) in the Premier League, and comfortably the most frequent of all attacker. In fact, the next strikers after Carroll are Dimitar Berbatov, Olivier Giroud and Peter Crouch (1.3 per game) sitting back in 126th, 127th and 128th position.
The final area that I want to cover is Carroll's injury record. A lot has been made of his poor injury record over the past few seasons, including his time at West Ham last season. Managing just 24 appearances is a poor return by anyone's standards.
However, Carroll was only eligible for 34 league games last season for West Ham (he was at Liverpool for the first two of the season, and was ineligible for games against Liverpool), meaning he actually appeared in just over 70% of possible games. He also played a full 90 minutes in 70% of his appearances (17).
I think it's also important to remember that Carroll actually played 90 minutes in 13 of West Ham's final 14 games of the season (he was ineligible against Liverpool). West Ham fans, myself included, will hope and pray that this is the kind of consistency we will get on a regular basis for the next 6 seasons, particularly as he scored 6 goals and assisted 4 in those 13 appearances!
This is a transfer that genuinely excites me. It's not often West Ham are in a position to sign an England centre forward... unless of course they're in their mid thirties and looking for a final resting place!
All that I have left to say is: Welcome back, Andy Carroll! You're made the right choice.