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Exceeding expectations: The one Newcastle United player who outdid my expectations

This Newcastle United player was not high on my list to begin the season, but he got there.

Newcastle United Unveil New Signing Andy Carroll Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

At the beginning of every season, like every fan, I have expectations for the players recently brought in. This season I had my expectations for Allan Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, and when he was signed in January, Valentino Lazaro. Expectations for all those players were relatively high based on my scouting reports of them.

There was one player brought in before the beginning of the season who has actually impressed me far more than I originally believed he would. That player was Andy Carroll.

Mainly because I felt that his striking days are far removed from his current ability. His veteran status and unique understanding of the game I believed made him a valuable asset on the training ground but offered very little more than that. But it would appear I underestimated the role that Carroll would later play for Newcastle.

He’s creating opportunities, not acting on them. He’s making space and using his head (literally). He’s not the striker, he’s the underestimated playmaker. He’s definitely not the best player on the squad, but he knows where his skills are most needed, and that’s an asset for any player on the pitch to have.

Carroll this season is sitting at four assists, one coming against Sheffield United at the beginning of Project Restart. This makes him the club leader in assists. But the assist numbers don’t do justice to the space and chances Andy Carroll has created and been a part of, respectively.

If he weren’t injured so damn often, I could see Carroll being the most valuable off the bench asset the club has other than Dwight Gayle right now. The interesting thing is I’m loving the paring of both Gayle and Carroll because of their physicality on the pitch. It was the duo I didn’t know I wanted to see play.

The bottom line is Andy Carroll has far exceeded the role I expected him to play this season, and I’m happy to see that he has been able to adjust to such a role. I look forward the day he gets his coaching licenses and maybe one day he’ll put his understanding of football to use as a manager.