First, the breaking news:
West Ham United have agreed a £2m loan fee with Liverpool for Andy Carroll.
The deal for the England striker is with a view to a permanent transfer of £17m, providing West Ham United stay in the Premier League.
However, it is thought Carroll does not wish to leave Liverpool on a permanent basis.
Beyond the hilarious prospect of Andy Carroll attempting to work against West Ham’s prolonged stay in the top flight, this is the effective end of the Andy Carroll saga. Not for his career of course; Sam Allardyce’s brand of retro football will serve the “big man up front” to be there whenever it’s time to “throw it in the mixer.” He’ll probably undergo a renaissance of sorts in East London.
Rather, it’s the end of the idea of Andy Carroll, the symbol of transfer market hubris in the Premier League. Unfortunately, for some, his descent in the football hierarchy will be used as a crude means of batting off the scourge of advanced analytics by certain pundits with an obvious agenda. “Bought for £30 million, sold for £2 million.” “Damien Comolli’s pick.” “Why there will be no Moneyball in football.”
The irony is the decision to go all out for Andy Carroll in the transfer market (as distinguished from Andy Carroll himself) represents everything that football analytics isn’t. Like an absolute, predictive measure that guarantees future success. Or a science based entirely on the most obvious positive indicators following a single season of success with a particular team, surrounded by certain players, under a specific tactical system.
Some will always remark in response to advances in football analytics, “Well, what about Andy Carroll then?” Meanwhile those doing the actual, piecemeal work at clubs or for data firms will strive diligently and silently behind closed doors. Not that it’s his fault of course, but rather what Andy Carroll (erroneously) represents.