Why Carroll wonder-strike cannot excuse crisis at West Ham
COMMENT By Matt Farr
Andy Carroll sent social media into a frenzy on Saturday afternoon, when he scored one of the goals of the season against Crystal Palace.
The England striker pulled-off a stunning overhead kick to help West Ham on their way to a comfortable 3-0 victory over Palace, with football fans and pundits across the board paying tribute to a moment of sheer brilliance.
However, while they can enjoy the moment and look back on it with pride, neither the stunning goal or the victory can be considered enough to paper over the cracks in what has been a topsy-turvy season for the Hammers.
Until Carroll’s wonder-strike, it had been nothing short of a disaster week for West Ham. Their star player, Dimitri Payet, has refused to play for the club, declaring his intention to leave for pastures new.
But while Slaven Bilic and co remain reluctant to offload their most-prized asset, they have to accept that the player is no longer going to have an influence on proceedings.
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Payet’s statement reeks of an instance when a player thinks that he is bigger than the club. That is simply never the case. But until Payet puts the club first, he cannot be reinstated. No matter how useful he can be.
The victory over Palace did show that they can perform without him in their side, with players like Sofiane Feghouli and Manuel Lanzini stepping up to the plate, and that will have to be the way things go from now on if they are to finish the season better than they started it.
Before the dominant display, the Hammers had suffered yet another poor run of form that saw them lose 5-o at home to Manchester City in the FA Cup third round, as well as back-to-back Premier League defeats to Leicester and Manchester United.
Not long before that, they were beaten 5-1 by Arsenal, and 4-1 by Manchester United – this time in the EFL Cup. The Arsenal defeat was a real low point in West Ham’s season, as it left them 17th in the Premier League, just a point above the relegation zone.
The players were slated, and the future of manager Slaven Bilic came under question. No drastic changes have been made since, but there is still plenty of work to do if they want to steer their season in the right direction.
As it stands, West Ham are up to 12th – not such a bad position to be in, considering how much worse it has been. The distance between themselves and the relegation zone is growing, but it could be a lot better.
They have just three wins in their last 10 league games, and they must draw confidence from Saturday’s result to help them continue to eat away at the top-half of the table.
They can do it, there is no doubt about that. The Payet situation will not help them, but they need to set that aside and focus on what is happening on the pitch.
The transfer window has not brought them much success either, but they will get something out of it – whether it will be their first choice or last resort targets.
Carroll’s goal does offer a glimmer of hope for West Ham, but it cannot shelter them from a period of increasing uncertainty at the Olympic Stadium.
In other West Ham news, Hammers fans took to Twitter to pan James Tomkins for his performance for Crystal Palace.