Cardiff 0 West Ham 2: Hammers take heart from the resurrection of Andy 'the Geordie Jesus' Carroll

There was a talismanic touch to his return, for the final 18 minutes of a pivotal 2-0 win at Cardiff

One man’s calculated risk is another’s desperate punt. It remains to be seen into which category Andy Carroll falls but, for the moment, the pragmatic acceleration of his West Ham United comeback appears to be working.

There was a talismanic touch to his return, for the final 18 minutes of a pivotal 2-0 win at Cardiff. Carroll offered few surprises; he was more buffalo than ballet dancer. He won the Big Unit’s fair share of headers, and his rusty technique ensured he pursued the ball with the vigour of a desperate commuter running after the last bus home.

Yet it was his simple pass which allowed the outstanding Mark Noble to seal Big Sam’s salvation with West Ham’s second goal in added time. Carroll duly repaid the devotion of the travelling fans by kicking the match ball to them at the final whistle.

Since no occasion involving the Academy would be complete without its surreal twist it was left to the sage of Upton Park, Jack Sullivan, the 13-year-old son of co-owner David, to pipe up on Twitter. “Thank God for the Geordie Jesus” he posted, alongside a faintly sacrilegious image which proclaimed “I am back, bitches”.

Thankfully, the grown-ups at the training ground are aware of the fragility of Carroll’s situation. A behind closed doors game is being arranged this week to increase his match fitness, and to ease the likes of James Collins and Ricardo Vaz Te back into a stretched first team squad.

Assistant manager Neil McDonald, deputed to deal with post-match media chores by Allardyce, accepted: “We have to build Andy’s time up gradually. We have to make sure we don’t push him too hard, too far and too fast.”

Given that, West Ham could probably do without the emotional pull of their next match, against Newcastle United. They will be without James Tomkins, sent off a minute after Carroll’s introduction for his second bookable offence, but reinforcements are arriving.

They will discover on Monday whether a work permit application for potential loanee Lacina Traoré, the newly-signed Monaco striker, has been successful.

Kevin Nolan, their suspended captain, was a notably vocal member of the substitutes’ bench in Wales. “He said he wanted to come,” reported McDonald. “Everyone is in this together, players staff and the owners.”

As if to prove the point, the co-owners leapt to the defence of their embattled manager. “Sam was doing nothing wrong,” insisted David Gold. Sullivan Senior added: “If you were looking for a manager to keep you up you’d appoint Sam.”

As far as Cardiff are concerned, it was an ominous home debut for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He obeyed the conventions of his trade by concentrating on the positives of a more assertive second half performance, but his side looked vulnerable in defence and threadbare up front.

Solskjaer introduced Magnus Wolff Eikrem, his first signing, off the bench. He will be joined in midfield by Mats Moller Daehli, an 18-year-old Norwegian international whose £2m transfer from Molde was announced on Saturday night.

Daehli, subject of late interest from former club Manchester United, was described by Solskjaer as “an inside midfielder who likes to get between the lines and take people on”. He added: “I don’t want to liken him to other players,” and promptly compared him to Samir Nasri and David Silva.

No pressure, then.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee