By Rob Stewart
Former Newcastle United manager Glenn Roeder believes international defenders will hate playing against England striker Andy Carroll at Euro 2012 this summer - if the Three Lions' strategy is spot on.
Ex-England coach Roeder launched Carroll’s career during his reign as Magpies boss and he thinks the Liverpool centre forward has what it takes to make a huge impact for the Three Lions this summer.
But Roeder, who worked under former England manager Glenn Hoddle at the 1998 World Cup finals, insists that current boss Roy Hodgson needs to adjust his tactics to enable the 23-year-old Carroll to make a difference in Poland and Ukraine.
“Roy won’t need telling this and I would assume that he would have selected him with this in mind but you have to play to Andy’s strengths to get the best out of him,” Roeder told Goal.com.
“If you don’t do that there is no point having him in the team and he will get frustrated as I have seen a lot of that frustration at Liverpool. Every time they got an opportunity to cross they would turn back and work the ball back across the pitch.
“Roy is not averse to getting the ball forward into the big striker early but if Andy Carroll is going to play a starting role on a regular basis you have to play to his strengths and playing lot of passes through midfield and retaining possession and keeping the ball on the ground is not playing to his strengths.
“I’m not saying he can’t fit into those tactics adequately but it is not his strength. His strength is attacking those crosses in the penalty box like he at Newcastle when he was scoring all those goals and causing pandemonium in the area. Defenders don’t like playing against strikers like that.”
Roeder, who played with distinction as a centre-half with Newcastle and Queen’s Park Rangers, feels that Hodgson must make sure his players do not resort to long-balls tactics when Carroll is leading the line.
“But if it becomes predictable and you play too many balls into him through the middle of the pitch then quality international centre-backs will deal with it easily,” added the tactician, who handed Carroll his Toon debut in a Uefa Cup tie at Palermo.
“They don’t give silly free-kicks away by bashing into him. It’s touch-tight, drop-off and if he flicks it the other centre-back reads it and it all becomes very easy tom play against.
“On the other hand if you get down the sides and start getting crosses in he is very good at getting across his marker to get his header in and then he can be devastating.”
Despite a disappointing season with Liverpool, Carroll was given the nod by Hodgson following a return to form in the closing stages of the campaign and Roeder is certain that it was a wise decision.
“It makes sense to have a player of that type – a bit rangy centre-forward who is strong in the air – at your disposal so he can attack the ball when the crosses come in,” Roeder continued.
“It was Andy Carroll or Peter Crouch who were the only contenders and Roy has gone for the younger player in Andy. Crouchy never let England down, especially coming off the bench but he is that much older while Andy still has his career in front of him.
“It has not gone great for him at Liverpool and he would be the first to admit it. You can box it up whichever way you want and find all the positives that you can from his move from Newcastle but overall but overall he would have been himself disappointed tat it has not gone better.
"But time is on his side. He will have to work with a new manager next season and in between times he has an opportunity at the Euros to really impress on the international stage.”
With Wayne Rooney suspended for the first two games of the Euro 2012 campaign, Carroll is expected to spearhead the attack but even he eventually reverts to the substitutes’ bench, Roeder is certain he can play a major part in England’s quest for glory.
“If he is not starting he is a decent sub to bring on late if you are chasing a goal or trying to hold on to a lead because he is very good defensively as well on set-plays,” Roeder said.
“Just don’t put him in the team and expect him to link the play and keep possession and twist and turn, especially in the knock-out stages and England are up against the better teams. If you’re just going to play long balls up to him it fail just as it did when Steve McClaren was manager and Peter Crouch was up front.
“There is an inherent problem that England have had for years which is that when you put a big man up front the defenders look to hit him with long balls and at international level nothing has ever been won playing that way and never will be.”