Should West Ham’s Andy Carroll have gone to Euro 2016 with England?
On Monday night during England’s draw against Slovakia, Andy Carroll took to twitter to suggest that he could of influenced the game in England’s favour. It draws parallels with Rio Ferdinand’s questioning of Roy Hodgson in 2012 on twitter, who was omitted from England’s squad for ‘footballing reasons’. In reality, Hodgson did not want to mix Ferdinand and John Terry after the messy racism incident that occurred at QPR earlier on in the season.
— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) June 3, 2012
Andy Carroll’s assertions weren’t damning, sure, but he voiced his opinion nonetheless when he retweeted this:
— Rob Smith-Wright (@officialbazbob) June 20, 2016
On one hand, Carroll and his fans have a point. His tactical uses are obvious. He would offer Hodgson a clear plan B to England’s attack, a route one option for teammates to pump the ball into, a solution to the problems caused by cautious defences that camp out in their own box. And let it be clear, Carroll is exceptionally good in the air, so much so that Slaven Bilic labelled him as ‘maybe the best in the world’ at heading, with it being ‘impossible to stop him’.
Ultra-defensive tactics have been an issue for England against all three of their group opposition so far. It will concern Hodgson that his plan A and his ‘strongest’ selection of players (his strikers) have failed to break down some average defences. The group games offer strong evidence that a tactical alternative in the squad would have been handy. Considering that England’s other attacking options are all fairly similar; Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy, and Daniel Sturridge are all rapid poachers, there’s definite thought behind the case.
But now that the groups have been settled, now that England look to face the likes of Germany, Spain and Italy before the final, Carroll’s use does seem more negligible. As good as he is in the air, Harry Kane- with all of the Tottenham chemistry that he brings- is adept in those situations too. Future opposition will not seek to frustrate England so much and will play up against them and match them. That will create more space for England to attack into, which will favour the playing styles of Sturridge, Kane and Vardy. A lumbering, one-dimensional forward may not have much purpose.
What’s more, past assertions from both of Carroll’s ex-managers have alluded to him not being particularly dedicated to the cause, and perhaps off-the-pitch, ‘in-the-hotel’ factors had swayed Hodgson’s decision making, who had previously taken him to Euro 2012 and worked with him before. And it’s easy as well to be critical of Hodgson in light of the team’s shortcomings. Hindsight is a wonderful tool, and it was not unreasonable to think that the firepower the team possessed would be sufficient to break down Slovakia, Wales and Russia.
Either way though, there’s logic in having a balanced approach to international squads in major tournaments. Commentators have accredited Vincent Del Bosque’s Spain success in 2010 and 2012 because in key knockout games he could call on Jesus Navas and Fernando Llorente. The former, Navas, was the only Spain player who would ‘hug’ the touchline and provide width and variation, while Llorente was a Spanish-Carroll-equivalent, a tall physical power player who could offer something truly different in a squad consisting of nimble and small passing midfielders. Similarly, commentators concurred that Germany won the 2014 World Cup for similar same reasons: the strength of their squad and their ability to rotate gave Joachim Löw strong flexibility to approach different tactical scenarios accordingly.
A similar line of argument can be applied to whether Phil Jones should have been taken to the tournament, which has been addressed in another Football Faculty article.
For now though, Carroll may have served a useful purpose in Group B, but if England are to advance through the knockout stages, maybe his time of use may well have already expired.