Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Ian Wright has admitted he was surprised that Andy Carroll did not start for West Ham on Sunday, as playing a more direct style of football would make sense with Dimitri Payet out injured.
Wright said: “You would think that now they don’t have Payet, and the play going through him, that they would go a little bit more direct to someone like Andy Carroll. And then you can have Lanzini, Moses and Sakho playing off him and pushing up. It just seems to me without that playmaker in there, you would have thought they would put Carroll on and just get the ball up to him.”
West Ham secured a 1-1 home draw against West Brom on Sunday, with Diafra Sakho starting up front in Slaven Bilic’s usual 4-2-3-1 system.
The Senegalese striker is the player many want to see start, as he suits West Ham’s football to a must better style than Carroll, but only when they keep the ball on the ground and look to play through Payet.
With Payet out of action through injury, there is less creativity in midfield, and it is no surprise that the Hammers looked to play slightly more direct. However, this does not suit Sakho, and Wright has explained that this new style would have been more productive if Carroll was starting.
It is not as if Bilic has made his team become completely long-ball, but they are playing a route one style on more occasions, and Carroll won more aerial duels in his 25 minute cameo than Sakho did in 74 minutes as a starter.
Carroll is not as naturally gifted a footballer as Sakho, but he does have a role to play, and maybe the English forward’s prominence in the West Ham set-up will increase with Payet out of action until the New Year.