Andy Carroll has urged Roy Hodgson to take him to the Euros this summer because of his unique style of old-school, bullying centre-forward play that was very much in evidence on Saturday as he battered a hat-trick past Arsenal in the gripping 3-3 draw at Upton Park.
“I’ve got something different,” the West Ham striker said, “it’s as simple as that. There’s a lot of great strikers out there but I don’t feel they’ve got what I’ve got. It’s nice to be spoken about in that way [being a candidate for the England squad] but at the minute I’ve just got to concentrate on our job at West Ham and if selection comes, it comes. It’s something at the back of my head but it’s not my decision.”
Carroll is right, Hodgson is blessed with strikers – a rare treat for an England manager over recent years – with Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy atop the scoring charts, Wayne Rooney as captain and Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge Hodgson favourites. So Carroll’s chances do look slim, especially as he has had another season blighted by injury. But while all the aforementioned forwards have their qualities none pose the challenge that Carroll does. He was too much for Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel on Saturday as he has been for many an Arsenal defence. “I’d like to think I ruffle everyone up, you know,” Carroll said. “Not just Arsenal, that’s just part of my game.”
The Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted Carroll was all but unstoppable. “With a player like Carroll they can score a goal from nothing. Any set-piece, any free-pick. He was fresh, he wanted to fight. We know that Carroll can beat anybody in the air. We jump but we didn’t make it uncomfortable for him.”
Carroll, though, was fortunate to have lasted 90 minutes on Saturday – still fuming from an innocuous aerial challenge, he raked Koscielny’s achilles with one foot and took a swing with the other. He was booked but on another day it could have been afternoon over, just three minutes in. No one would be talking about the England squad then. Later he clashed with Gabriel. And with referees across Europe less familiar with Carroll’s unusual attributes, does he not worry he could be in trouble too often?
“I’ve just got to be sensible haven’t I?” Carroll said. “Simple as that. You can be sensible in a lot of the tackles and still be physical. I did OK at Euro 2012. You know exactly what the European referees are going to do. Off a little touch, a little scream, a little dive, they’re going to send you off, give a yellow card, a foul, you know, you’ve just got to be clever. And I don’t think it’s really that hard to be that clever when you’re playing with them refs and players.”
Carroll’s case would be strengthened by a run in the team until the end of the season but that requires him to stay fit. “It’s been disappointing all season with injuries,” he admitted. “It’s just stop and start and very frustrating. I certainly don’t want to be injured. I just want to be on the pitch. It’s my job, it’s my hobby, it’s my life. I hope the injuries are behind me but every time I say that they come back, so…”
Slaven Bilic believes Carroll could do more to help himself on that front. “When he gets consistency he is like that [against Arsenal],” the West Ham manager said. “So, he has got to do something. The medical team, the club we are doing everything. OK, he’s doing it but he should be even more dedicated or it’s a waste. It’s a waste for West Ham, it’s a waste probably for England or big clubs in Europe who want to buy him. But the biggest waste is for him.” But, what more can he do than a nine-minute hat-trick? “Well, if he goes to bed at 10, he should go to bed at 9.30 now.”
Wenger, who must now know Arsenal’s race is run even if he will not admit it, was lost for an answer as to why his side threw away a two-goal lead and only gained a point, his season summed up in 90 up and down minutes. “Every time we concede goals people come up with the same thing: you lack leaders or you lack this or you lack that,” Wenger said. “I don’t deny that we lacked something at 2-0. Is it leadership? I’m not completely convinced. Just heading the ball.” Carroll can certainly do that.
So, when was the last time Carroll chatted with Hodgson? “Last time I was with England.” But is he expecting a phone call? “I’d love a phone call. I don’t know if I’m expecting one.”