Can Andy Carroll still do a job for England?

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West Ham fans have been through the wringer a few times this season, and they’ll always give a completely honest and unbiased assessment of their team and club if asked.

To a man, they all still rate Andy Carroll, and so do the club.

Injuries have played a huge part in his lack of game time this season, and theoretically he needs to have a full pre-season to get back to somewhere approaching his best form.

But there’s no denying that he offers something that no other England striker does.

His presence and physicality allow him to dominate most opponents, particularly aerially, and as he’s shown on a few occasions, he still knows where the goal is.

To this point, he’s not really been in the England conversation, but he has to be given due consideration.

Harry Kane is in a league of his own, so there’s no suggestion he’s a replacement. Far from it in fact.

Ditto the other front men that may be under Gareth Southgate’s microscope. The candidacies of Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford, Danny Welbeck, Raheem Sterling and Jermain Defoe et al can’t be ignored.

And yet, they all offer much the same in terms of attacking threat. Reasonable pace and an eye for goal.

Nothing wrong with that of course, but when a game is getting away from you and something different is needed, having a powerful ‘old school’ No.9 at your disposal as an alternative could tip the scales.

Three goals in his seven appearances is a ratio that affords him the courtesy of having Southgate or one of his staff at least ‘take a look.’

Even if he were to be an impact sub, there’s enough about his natural game, if he stays fit, to give him a spot in the squad.

Remember, Theo Walcott was taken to a World Cup and then not played. Even if Carroll only had 10 minutes at the end of each match, he could be the game changer.

Kane will often be ploughing a lone furrow and has the nous and the form to be England’s talisman, but why not go route one occasionally? Get the midfield pushing up and ready for the inevitable knock downs.

It won’t be pretty and almost certainly won’t curry favour with those who prefer a more beautiful game.

But let’s be clear. Given the choice of aesthetically pleasing football or a style – when needed – that brings results, surely the most pragmatic style is the right choice?

England don’t have to be ‘pretty’ nor ‘inventive’ to win the fans over.

If back to basics works, even occasionally, England are cutting their nose off to spite their face if they don’t take advantage.

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England beat Lithuania but show signs that they haven’t moved on


How do you see a half pint measure? That you still have half, or that you only have half?

This could well be represented with Gareth Southgate’s England team, a team who got all three crucial points in their World Cup qualifying match over Lithuania. England of course were expected to win, especially being at home and did so- it was job done.

It was also achieved in a rather relative professional matter, the goals, one by Jermain Defoe and the other by Jamie Vardy were well taken and executed well. Mention should go out to Defoe, who at his age of 34 was deemed surplus to requirements as far as international football went. But the striker has been superb in an ever growing nightmare of a season for his club Sunderland who are at the foot of the Premier league. Credit should go to Southgate to realise that the striker was in form and deserved a call up, one that was immensely justified.

But England’s performance was incredibly laboured, even lethargic because within ten minutes of kick off they had checked out their opponents and quickly realised that Lithuania playing what seemed to be almost six men at the back had come to Wembley Stadium for a 0-0 result. Perhaps with huge luck Lithuania would have countered in the final quarter of an hour for a shock of shock wins but this was never in realistic terms going to happen.

And so the three lions had to be awakened as such, it never even had to be a rude one as Lithuania rarely threatened. The key in the end was getting an early goal, which Defoe did and the rest was history. By the time the second half had kicked off the area around the bench, so gloriously filled with fans for the big games was almost empty. Most had opted not to make the visit, whilst some may have still been at the bar behind the stand or grabbing a snack.

This match underlined the English mentality- and you do wonder if much will change under Southgate’s wing. True he wants to be a winner and he may take more risks player selection wise than this predecessors but this was a match devoid of any tempo, the opposition were clearly here for the taking and the 70,000 or so fans deserved to see a game ending with four or five goals rather than just the two that England could muster up in 90 minutes.

Let’s hope that this was just a bad day at the office, yes a win is a win and it’s three points, but this match could well lead onto a path that many English fan has walked many a time, only to be re routed backwards when the going gets tough.

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Injury crisis compounds Sunderland’s problems

Euro 2016

When Sunderland set the club’s lowest ever points total for a Premier League season by amassing just 15 during the 2005/2006 campaign, they lost five and drew one of their opening six games.

Furthermore after those games, then managed by Mick McCarthy, Sunderland had a goal difference of minus seven, as they sat at that foot of the table.

That record perfectly mirrors the dismal start to this season which David Moyes’ side have made, as the 53-year-old awaits a maiden league win as manager.

Sunderland short on belief and confidence

Not only has Sunderland’s results been poor under Moyes, but so too have been the majority of their performances, with the team lacking in both belief and confidence, as testified when they lost their last league game 3-2 at home against Crystal Palace after surrendering a 2-0 lead.

A septet of injuries

Whilst the result in itself represented a major disappointment for Sunderland, that was amplified by the injuries which Lee Cattermole, Adnan Januzaj and Steven Pienaar sustained during the game.

Subsequently the trio, along with Victor Anichebe, Fabio Borini, Sebastian Larsson and Vito Mannone, are set to miss their team’s home clash against West Brom, as an injury crisis has developed at Sunderland to compound their current on-field problems.

Plagued by lapses in concentration

In order to rectify those problems Moyes faces an extremely difficult task, particularly given his team’s current defensive fragility, whereby on average they have conceded two goals per league game this season despite goalkeeper Jordan Pickford performing tremendously.  Ahead of the 22-year-old lapses in concentration, such as that made by Papy Djilobodji which enabled Harry Kane to score the only goal as Sunderland lost 1-0 to Tottenham, have cost Moyes’ team dearly.

A similar scenario faced McCarthy in the 2005/2006 season as the now Ipswich Town manager oversaw a disastrous Premier League campaign, for all but four weeks of which Sunderland were at the bottom of the table.  With five games of the season remaining, the relegation of McCarthy’s team to the Championship was confirmed, as of their 38 league games they lost 29 and won just three.

One of those wins was a 2-0 success against their local rivals Middlesbrough, as Sunderland earned their first league victory of the season at the seventh attempt, with that being a feat which Moyes will endeavour to inspire his players to achieve at home against West Brom.

Defoe vital to Sunderland’s prospects

The last game between the two teams at the Stadium of Light ended goalless in April, as despite having eight efforts on goal, Jermain Defoe was frustrated in his best efforts to score.

Nevertheless the 35-year-old striker has scored four of Sunderland’s five league goals this season, including two clinical finishes against Crystal Palace, to become the joint ninth all-time leading scorer in the history of the Premier League alongside Teddy Sheringham with 147 goals.

Therefore in defiance of his team’s current troubles, Defoe has continued to exercise his wonderful finishing ability, to vividly portray that he will be vital to Sunderland’s prospects of recovering from their disappointing start to the season.

Januzaj’s injury a major blow

Another player who could potentially help Sunderland achieve that is the mercurially talented Januzaj, although the 21-year-old Belgian internationalist is forecast to be out of action for six weeks due to damaging ligaments in his ankle against Crystal Palace.

Given his ability to create the type of goal-scoring opportunities upon which Defoe thrives, Januzaj’s absence constitutes another problem with which Moyes must contend, as the former Everton, Preston North End and Manchester United manager aspires to lead Sunderland off the foot of the table.

Moyes faces extremely difficult task

Despite having yet to win a league game this season, Sunderland have enjoyed success in the League Cup, with them progressing to the fourth round by virtue of beating lower league opposition in the form of Shrewsbury and Queens Park Rangers.

Therefore Moyes’ team have proved themselves capable of winning games, although that is a habit which they are yet to develop in the Premier League but require to do so soon, so as to avoid suffering a similar fate to that experienced by McCarthy’s team of 2005/2006.

Whilst the former Republic of Ireland manager did not have his problems to seek that season, neither does Moyes at present.

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Don’t Stop Me Now: The Most Impressive Goal Streaks in History


Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy is just one goal away from equalling Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s 12 year record for scoring in ten consecutive Premier League matches. With the Foxes’ next game coming against hapless Newcastle United, the 28-year-old has a fantastic chance of doing just that.

That statistic got this writer thinking: in the grand scheme of things, how does Van Nistelrooy’s (and potentially Vardy’s) achievement stack up? It is obviously a phenomenal feat in a division as competitive as the Premier League, but who has achieved above and beyond?

King George

If there has been a better streak of scoring in professional scoring than that of Middlesbrough’s George Camsell, then this writer is yet to hear about it.

In 1927, he blasted an astonishing 29 goals in 12 consecutive games! He went on to score 63 goals in all competitions that season, and still boasts the best goals-to-game ratio of any player to turn out for England (18 goals in nine games). He is, without doubt, one of the best strikers to ever lace up a pair of boots.

Defoe Damage

Another English striker who has netted in ten consecutive ties is Jermain Defoe, and he completed the feat as a baby-faced 18-year-old whilst on loan at Bournemouth from West Ham.

His feat is not widely recognised at the highest level as it occurred in the third tier of English football.

Masashi’s Moment

There can’t be many more prolific streaks than the short run enjoyed by Jubilo Iwata striker Masashi Nakayama in the Japanese J League. He fired in FOUR consecutive hat-tricks – in the denominations of five, four, four and three – to record 16 goals in just four appearances in a mad run in April 1998.

And when thoughts of Nakayama simply being a one-hit wonder come to mind, just remember that he is also responsible for the quickest ever hat-trick in international football – 3 mins, 3 seconds – against Brunei.

Coen the Kanon

Whilst Vardy has bagged 12 goals in his nine game run, he’s still a long way behind Coen Dillen’s Eredivisie record of 20 goals in nine games.

Nicknamed ‘Her Kanon’ due to the power of his right boot, Dillen notched 43 goals that 1956/57 season; which is still a Dutch premier League record to this day.

Der Bomber

The last place on our list goes to Gerd Muller, simply for the longevity of his feat. Der Bomber netted in 16 consecutive matches as 1969 turned into 1970, and the run actually covered six months due to the harsh winter causing many games to be postponed.