Tuesday 20 March 2018

Carroll told to ignore Euro hype and work on his fitness

West Ham 2-0 Liverpool

Andy Carroll has scored two goals in two games for West Ham. Photo: Reuters
Andy Carroll has scored two goals in two games for West Ham. Photo: Reuters
Fan favourite Dimitri Payet made his return from injury a month early for West Ham. Photo credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Miguel Delaney

Slaven Bilic now expects Andy Carroll to change his "history" and look after his fitness properly to become the player he should be.

However, the West Ham manager warned England that they cannot think seriously about winning Euro 21016 if they keep getting excited by any player who scores two goals.

Carroll headed the second goal in West Ham's impressive win at Upton Park. It was the first time in two and a half years that he has scored in successive games and led to talk about whether he can make England's squad for France.

The former Liverpool striker scored at Euro 2012 but a series of injury problems means that it remains his last international goal and he has not received a single cap since 2012.

Bilic said he expected Carroll to use that as a target, but there was a mild rebuke for the player as the manager hinted he had to change his off-pitch approach and first concentrate properly on keeping fit to earn an extended run in the side.

"Andy looks really good to me, he didn't drop for one single minute in today's game," Bilic said. "He was running, he was doing everything, he was tracking back, he was keeping two centre-halves busy when needed.

"He is good and fit and it's all about him now. Is he going to maintain and progress and look after himself and train hard and rest, or is he going to go the other way? He has a history in that and I'm not his dad. I can't demand things from him, but I'm expecting that, to be fair.

"To talk about the Euros is wrong for him," Bilic insisted. "If England is a serious national team and you're trying to win the Euros then you can't talk about the national team when the player has scored two goals.

"He's got all the quality. To ask me, 'does he have quality?' then, yes, but he has to show it on a longer scale and now it's there. He's got a chance, that's why I'm asking.

"It [Euro 2016] would push me, definitely, and I hope that he's going to do everything because when he's like this he's hard to play against."

A former central defender, Bilic said he would have loved the challenge of competing against Carroll and compared him to his old Everton team-mate, Duncan Ferguson.

"Would I stop him? I don't know but I would love to because I like those sort of challenges.

"There are very few guys in the league like him. There are guys who are more pacy running behind but he's like English tackles and duels. He's like the Duncan Ferguson of my time."

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, meanwhile, revealed that his team have been investigating their repeated poor starts in matches.

Michail Antonio's early header on Saturday was the fourth time since the German took over that Liverpool have conceded inside the first 10 minutes of a match.

"It's something we have spoken about three times and it is not good. But we are in a situation where we need to start playing football again.

"West Ham played the first ball to Andy Carroll very easily. But under pressure we tried to play those first balls either on the half-volley or to players' chests. What were they doing? You cannot control balls like this and that's what the situation was."

Klopp was most angry with the lack of intensity from his team, and when asked how a manager regularly elicits that response, he puffed out his cheeks.

"It's my responsibility. I can't change a lot," Klopp said. "I can't explain. You want a few sentences, I would need to write a book.

"In the decisive moments we were there, but not 100 per cent. If you fight at 95 per cent it is not enough. When we started playing with a clear direction, we had our moments and we made chances but we didn't score."

But it was failure to keep out the obvious aerial threat of Carroll that really made him angry. When Mark Noble swung in a cross in the 55th minute, Liverpool's centre-backs Dejan Lovren and Mamdou Sakho were hopelessly out of position, leaving right-back Nathaniel Clyne in an unfair contest with Carroll, who thumped a header into the back of the net.

"We had five against one on the sidelines, nobody won the ball, cross for Carroll against Clyne - no chance for Clyne, header, 2-0. If you know the other team have Andy Carroll, how can you allow those crosses?"

Independent News Service

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