So, we bid farewell to certainly one of the biggest characters we have had at the football club in many a year. Andy Carroll is a mountain of a chap that definitely will have left his mark, one way or another, in our memories.
If not for his two stupendous “best disallowed goals” you’d have ever seen, down to the simply daft red card that he obtained in a must-win game. From the infamous “we’re all in this together” boat celebration at Swansea City to the stroke-inducing Instagram post where capitalisation was king.
Ultimately, it was a fractious relationship that never truly fell into a love affair with Andy. All the elements were initially there. A fantastic header of the ball, there are few finer even now. A smile as wide as the Tyne, but with a darker side that no doubt caused disruption in the dressing room and, as we now know, with current manager Ruben Selles.
But it could and should have been better - if Paul Ince had managed to fashion a tactic that could have brought the best out of Carroll’s talents, if he could have kept his head when we needed him the most, if he could have been a bit more sanguine and less of an old moany git. If, if, if.
At times, Andy did even keep us in games with his defensive contributions. It could be argued that he was better at defending set-pieces than attacking them. He became too much of a “Special Team” player and less of one that we could genuinely rely on. But, if Ince played to his strengths and not just to win headers on the halfway line, this might have been a different story. He was a player brought in to have a team built around, but then avoided playing to his strengths. Ince was devoid of any managerial nous.
All this changed when Ince was replaced with a young, dynamic, progressive coach in Selles. It didn’t take a genius to work out that Carroll was going to be a square peg in a round hole. When the requirement for his players to have buckets of energy to be able to perform a high-octane press became clear, it was hard to see how Andy could adapt.
To Selles’ credit, he allowed Carroll the opportunity in the first couple of league games of the season. Alas, after a nondescript showing against Peterborough United, followed by the infamous penalty miss against Port Vale, the writing was on the wall. This was his final appearance in a Reading shirt. This led to the rumoured bust-up involving Carroll, Tom Holmes and Nesta Guinness-Walker, none of whom have even appeared on a team sheet since.
So, it comes as no surprise that the BFG is out the door.
For all of his talents, they were of a bygone era that played in a certain way, a way that he could thrive and shine in, being a focal point and a spectacle. As much as Andy had his moments at Reading, they were almost all for the wrong or unfortunate reasons.
His two fabulous disallowed goals against Fulham: a proper “I was there” moment.
Andy Carroll saw two screamers disallowed in Reading's 7-0 defeat to Fulham pic.twitter.com/wipgb9alyj— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) January 11, 2022
His manic performance against Manchester United which led to many a United fan wanting Carroll to be beheaded for his foul on Christian Eriksen.
No card was given to Andy Carroll for this challenge on Christian Eriksen, which has left him on crutches pic.twitter.com/08KbT817Gi— utdreport (@utdreport) January 28, 2023
His utterly ridiculous handball led to his second yellow card against Luton Town in a must-win game. If we’d have won that game, we could and should have survived relegation.
His penalty miss against Port Vale which, ironically, heralded a new dawn at the club. With that miss, Selles changed his entire approach and set his stall out with the youth. It’s safe to say that without Carroll beside him, Kelvin Ehibatiomhan has flourished. Make that of what you will.
A lot of things have happened indirectly because of him and not enough that he directly influenced. And that’s the sad thing about the end of his varied stints in Berkshire. His reputation preceded him and that’s because he was a player of the past and not the present.