Saturday, 16 June 2012

#Euro2012 - the Carroll conundrum

Like (I imagine) many people in this part of the country, I was delighted to watch England seize a 3-2 win over Sweden in the Group stages of the Euro 2012 tournament.  The nail-biting way in which this was achieved was slightly less delightful, of course; England led 1-0 at half-time, but were trailing 2-1 within moments of the restart, only to grab a miraculous equaliser - and an even more miraculous winner! - late into the second half.

One issue which stands out for me, however, is that of Andy Carroll.  The selection of the controversial Liverpool striker (who transferred from Newcastle for a ludicrous £35million fee) by Roy Hodgson has split opinion, and Hodgson must have known that including Carroll in the starting line-up for the all-important Sweden game was a risky strategy.

However, Hodgson's decision was vindicated, or so it seemed, by the first England goal.  It was Carroll himself who gave his national team the lead, with a superb header.  Admittedly, he was helped by an absolutely fantastic cross in from Captain Steven Gerrard - but, ultimately, the finish was Carroll's the power and strength in that phenomenal jumping header was Carroll's, and (rightly so!) the plaudits were Carroll's.

So, at this juncture in the match, Carroll and Hodgson appeared vindicated - their critics, silenced.  Going into half-time, all the talk was of England's goal, and England's goal scorer; those who had doubted Carroll were suddenly very quiet.

I, however, remain unconvinced.  Had the match ended at half-time (with England 1-0, and Carroll the much-celebrated goal scorer) I would've been happy to admit that Carroll's place in the squad had been well and truly justified.  Sadly, though, the match didn't end at half-time - and only nine minutes into the second half, Sweden had scored their first goal.

The first Swedish goal of the match was a scrappy, unsightly affair.  Officially attributed to England's Glen Johnson as an own goal, it was an extremely good piece of luck for Sweden - in fact, the more replays I see of that goal, the more I realise how incredibly fortunate the Swedes were that it even went in at all.

But who's fault was it that England conceded such a terrible, messy, ugly goal?  Andy Carroll's.

It was Carroll's stupid, clumsy tackle on Kim Källström - lunging in late, with both feet - right on the edge of England's 18-yard box which gave away a free kick, the consequence of which was the goal-mouth scramble that eventually resulted in the supposed own goal.

Gifted an unlikely equaliser, the Swedes were fired-up enough to take the lead ten minutes later, thanks to Olof Mellberg.  Would Sweden have enjoyed the ten-minute period of dominance which led up their second goal, had they not been buoyed by the equaliser which Andy Carroll's careless tackle gave them?  Unlikely, in my opinion.

Thankfully, England when on to equalise, and then score a winner, thanks to two wonderful goals from Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck.  (The Walcott goal, in particular, I thought was amazing - and I certainly hope to see more of him in this tournament, should England progress further than the Group round.)

I enjoyed the game - it was exciting to watch, and a very important win for England.  I thought all three of our goals were excellent, and we certainly showed much more promise than at any time during our hesitant performance against France.  But in the case of Andy Carroll - for me, I'm afraid the jury's still out.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave a comment - give your feedback, answer a question, start a debate, make a point, or simply hurl abuse... It's up to you! ;)