Cottee said: “I think this is a big game for Andy Carroll, too. It is time for him to shine and the challenge is to get the tactics right to play to his strengths. He is a big man, but he can play with his back to goal and is also good on the floor, so we don’t want to get suckered into just lumping long balls up to him. As a striker myself, I know that Andy is only as good as the service he receives, so it is the responsibility of the team – not just Andy – to get the ball into good positions and deliver quality into the penalty area.”
Carroll has been coming under criticism in recent weeks for his poor performances, but Slaven Bilic has no real option but to start the forward this weekend.
Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia are both out of action through injury, and Nikica Jelavic does not seem to be trusted as a starting striker, meaning that Carroll is the only out-and-out forward Bilic can select.
However, selecting him seems to work against the rest of the team, given that Carroll’s strengths are in the air and West Ham want to play the ball along the ground.
Cottee believes that he could play a key role against United, and he wants West Ham to set up to play to his strengths - without just pumping the ball long every single time they win possession.
United have shown that they are culpable to aerial balls played into their defence, and Carroll could prove a constant nuisance, but the Hammers have to ensure that they mix up their game to have the best chance of scoring.
Carroll has a lot of work to do to make up for his recent poor performances in a West Ham shirt.
Bilic has no choice but to start the English forward this weekend, and Carroll himself needs to prove himself as a Premier League-level forward by having a key impact upon the game.