Carroll capture sends out statement of intent

Posted by Peter Thorne

Ian Walton/Getty ImagesAndy Carroll tallied seven goals for the Hammers during the 2012-13 season.

After months of conjecture, Andy Carroll has officially signed with West Ham United. The forward penned a six-year deal with an option for a further two to become the club's record signing. The move sits as a huge statement of intent by the board to match their ambitions prior to the move to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

Carroll underwent a vigorous medical ahead of the reported £15 million deal, and his capture follows a season-long chase by manager Sam Allardyce. Allardyce had to snag Carroll from Liverpool, where he was deemed unnecessary when Brendan Rodgers was appointed -- a move that was worked out on transfer deadline day last summer -- and to convince both board and player that a future at Upton Park represented a big step forward.

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Whatever the perception of the signing outside the confines of the Boleyn, the fact remains that this is something of a coup for West Ham. This time last year, the team had just won back a promotion to the Championship after a season out of the Premier League. Rumors of signing Carroll, even on loan, seemed ludicrously optimistic. Twelve months later, it looks as though this is a signing that suits all parties perfectly.

Given Carroll's perceived "failure" at Liverpool, his chances of moving to a club that would push for a Champions League slot were remote. On the other hand, from West Ham's perspective, there was no reason he could not improve. That too, the move to east London would help Carroll's chances of finding a way into the England set up in what is hoped to be a World Cup season.

West Ham have an enviable record of supplying players to the England set-up, despite being outside the assumed elite of the Premier League. Carroll needed to view the signing as an opportunity to prove that he can live up to the potential of his early career at Newcastle.

For the Hammers though, a player like Carroll can be the difference between a finish in the top half of the league and a struggle in the lower reaches. Allardyce indicated as much when he captured the Geordie on loan last August and, despite an injury-riddled campaign, there was little during the 2012-13 season to suggest that the manager hadn't called it correctly.

Against some opposition -- games against Fulham, Swansea, West Brom and Reading spring to mind -- Carroll was virtually unstoppable. The club will be hoping for more of the same next season, along with fewer trips to the treatment room.

Despite Carroll's injury woes last season, there is nothing in the player's history to suggest he is injury prone. However, his lean physique coupled with the position he plays will always put him at risk of suffering a hard knock. Regardless, this move shouldn't be perceived as a gamble on his fitness.

Although some point to a disappointing goal ratio last season -- Carroll only managed seven -- his assist rate was phenomenal. It was obvious when Carroll was injured that the spaces he creates simply by being on the pitch, usually winning over 90% of the balls played up to him, had a major effect on the way the rest of the team performed.

Similarly, in another "assist" effect, this signing signals that West Ham are looking to reinforce their stature on the pitch. It's likely that the signature of Andy Carroll will draw the attention of other players looking to move to the east end.

Sporting his new number nine shirt, which is sure to do brisk trade in the club shop over the coming years, Carroll said, "The way the club's being run, obviously getting the stadium and everything like that, it's only going up."

Hopefully, this signing will be further proof of that.

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