Andy Carroll, as everyone is aware, has suffered yet another injury set-back and will likely be unavailable to West Ham until early November. The forward sustained an ankle injury during the club’s pre-season tour of New Zealand and is currently recovering from surgery in the United States.
Because of his repeated absences, Carroll is seemingly becoming a source of embarrassment for West Ham’s owners and, as such, David Sullivan has moved quickly to shift the blame for the £15m signing.
“We were assured by our physio - who has since left the club - that the player would be available for the start of the season.
He wasn’t available until January or February. A mistake was made and we were given the wrong information. We based our decision and our purchase of the player on what the medical department told us.
We’ve changed everything in that department as a result of that. At the same time on his day he is a devastating and fantastic player, we’ve just got to get him back to his best.”
I’m not sure that’s quite the excuse Sullivan believes it to be.
Of course Premier League clubs rely on their medical teams to keep them abreast of injuries and players’ physical conditions, but the risk of this transfer was predicated on the amount of money West Ham were willing to pay Liverpool for Andy Carroll. During the season in which the club had him on-loan, the player missed a combined 14 games through knee and hamstring injuries and, prior to that, the player had a far from unblemished injury record - irrespective of the advice given to him by the medical department, Sullivan must always have known that the amount of money being spent on Carroll constituted an enormous risk.
Look at the amounts of money West Ham have been willing to spend on players in the past and look at what they agreed to pay Sam Allardyce as an annual salary: yes, the Carroll situation is a multi-faceted problem with many causes, but there’s a case in general for saying that club are soft negotiators.
Look at the way he plays the game and look at which areas of his body are repeatedly causing him trouble: knees, feet, ankles, hamstrings - do you really need a medical degree to guess that there might be a structural problem with this player?
West Ham may have been let down by their former physio, but Carroll’s availability at the start of last season and his general fragility are two different problems.