I've been rolling this around in my head for a couple days now, trying to decide if this summer's tournament will be good for our big Geordie or not. Obviously, it's likely that it will be. And of course, I'm looking back to the striker that Carroll will always be linked to for comparison. But we'll get to that.
I know there's still some debate as to whether Carroll will A) even make the squad -- which he has to and B) how much he'll play. I can't see how he doesn't play a lot with Rooney suspended for the first two matches. Especially considering that Roy Hodgson is now in charge and I find it highly unlikely he won't play a 4-4-2, and England don't have two strikers who should play ahead of Carroll with Rooney out. Peter Crouch? He doesn't terrorize defenders the way Carroll does, and Danny Welbeck is still a bit raw. With Darren Bent injured, well, the pool's pretty fucking shallow.We also know that Fabio Capello, one of the most accomplished managers in the game, was desperate to have Carroll be the sharp end of his 4-2-3-1, with Rooney moving deeper as he has done with ManUre from time to time. Capello's frustration with Carroll's lifestyle and work ethic came out of his desperation to have the striker he envisioned. Maybe, finally, Carroll is approaching that. Though it comes too late for Capello, obviously.
What can it do? We need look no farther than Fernando Torres. Now, this is a loose comparison. Torres's first full season with Liverpool saw him bang in 24 goals in 29 league appearances. But if you'll recall, Torres's start on Merseyside wasn't all fireworks, mostly through Rafa Benitez's desire to not play him all the time. He didn't start to get a regular game until after a hat trick in the league cup against Reading. So while Torres's arc is far more severe, Carroll's isn't too dissimilar. Slow, dodgy start, something of a fast close. If not in goals with Carroll as it was with Torres, at least in form.
After that season, Torres went off with Spain to Euro 2008. Of course, it came with all the questions he always faced with his national team, how he paired with David Villa and how he fit in the team. He managed one goal against Sweden in the group phase, but looked out of place alongside the sparkling Villa that tournament. But Villa got hurt in the semifinal, and when on his own against Germany in the Final Torres scored the only goal and was a terror.
After a promising but still unfulfilled career at Atletico Madrid, where his potential was never questioned but he was sometimes viewed as wasteful and needing five chances to score one, and establishing himself in the world's best league (at the time), Torres was now firmly planted on the world stage. He returned to Liverpool from that tournament and formed that fully operational Death Star with Gerrard that nearly, nearly brought the league title back to Anfield.
Now let's face it, Carroll will never be Torres at the height of his powers. At least it's not likely. And that Spain team was about 154 times as talented as that wreck of an England team that's headed to Polkraine this summer, so he won't have the help.
But a successful run against international teams and defenses could finally cement the confidence and belief in Carroll that sees him fully commit to being an unholy force. We should hope so.