The true value of a player – The story of Andy Carroll and Shane Long

by Shane Gunning

Just before the Premier League January transfer window of 2011 closed Liverpool paid Newcastle United £35 million for striker Andy Carroll.

At that time Carroll had only a half a season top flight experience behind him but Liverpool were still prepared to fork out a fee that would make Carroll the eight most expensive player in the history of the game. When the transfer went through Carroll was already carrying an injury, this meant he only made 7 league appearances for the remainder of the 2010-11 season where he pitched in with 2 league goals.

In August of 2011 West Bromwich Albion signed Reading striker Shane Long for an undisclosed fee which was believed to be in the region of £4.5 million.

At the start of the 2011-12 season Long was 24 years old and Carroll was 22. Six months previous Carroll was sold for nearly 8 times the transfer fee Long commanded so one would assume that Carroll is a vastly superior player and Liverpool should in theory get 8 times more performance form their purchase.

When you analyse their respective performance in this season’s Premier League the truth is a little different. Since the start of this season Carroll has played 728 minutes of football for Liverpool while scoring 2 league goals, this is a return of a goal for every 364 minutes on the pitch. In the same period Long has managed to play 982 minutes for West Brom with a return of 5 league goals, this is a goal for every 196.4 minutes on the pitch.

The varying plight of each club doesn’t put Carroll’s performance in any better light. Liverpool are doing better than West Brom and scoring more goals. They currently lie in 7th position in the Premier League while West Brom are further down the table sitting in 14th spot. West Brom have a haul of 13 goals this campaign so far while Liverpool have fared a little better scoring 17 times. This shows that Shane Long has so far accounted for 38.5% of his sides’ league goals while Andy Carroll has only shared the burden by scoring 11.8% of Liverpool’s league goals so far.

It would not be entirely fair to judge either player just on their so far short stay at their new clubs, they both have a long way to go on their respective contracts and in their careers. The figures though are telling.

So the question is why is there such a disparity in the transfer money paid for both players? If Andy Carroll had a glittering career previous to joining Liverpool the astronomical fee paid for him would be more understandable.

However in his last full season in the Championship (2009-10) he scored 17 times for Newcastle and ended up joint 6th top scorer in that division. In Shane Long’s last full season in the same division (2010-11) he tallied 21 goals for Reading finishing joint 2nd top scorer.

Carroll did burst into the limelight during the first half of the 2010-11 Premier League season when he bagged 11 goals in 19 games for the then newly promoted Newcastle. Much hype was created by this performance, Newcastle had an “Old Style” English centre forward and he was banging in the goals for the Toon Army. Alan Shearer had a successor at last, all was looking rosy in the North East of England and all going well the English national side itself may also have a new saviour.

It is however very hard to believe that this 11 goal haul and the accompanying hype could inflate his transfer fee to the figure Liverpool eventually paid. There is little evidence apart from this half season performance that he should stand out from the crowd or that he could be considered the eight most expensive player in the history of football.

It should be mentioned though that Andy Carroll does qualify for the Premier League ‘home grown’ quota, where eight of the first team squad must have trained with an English or Welsh club for 3 years before their 21st birthday. Long misses out on that rule by 6 months. Qualifying for this quota will undoubtedly put a premium on player’s value but it cannot explain the fee stumped up for Carroll.

When Liverpool bought Carroll they had just received £50 million from Chelsea for Fernando Torres and Newcastle United, like the rest of the world, knew this. However it would make very poor business practice if Liverpool merely paid the price they did for Carroll because Newcastle knew they had money burning a hole in their pocket. It would be fair to say that Kenny Dalglish needed to replace Torres for the remainder of the season at the very least, but as is mentioned above Andy Carroll was injured and not fit to play when the deal went through.

Also off the field Long looks to be a far more stable bet than Carroll, and is unlikely to attract all the negative attention that has so far blighted the big forward’s career.

So are West Brom the best run business in the Premier League and has Roy Hodgson got the best eye for a bargain? Or are Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish the exact opposite of how things are run at The Hawthorns? The truth is probably somewhere in between these two assertions. So far though Shane Long has proved to have been a good bit of business for West Brom. The same cannot be said for Andy Carroll.

Andy Carroll
Shane Long
Price Paid at Last Transfer
£35,000,000
£4,500,000
Age
22
24
PL Minutes on Field in 2011/12
728
982
PL Goals Scored in 2011/12
2
5
Minutes on the field per PL Goal
364
196.4
Overall Team PL Goals so far in 2011/12
17
13
% of Teams PL Goals Scored
11.8%
38.5%
Goals in Last Full Season in C’ship
17
21

This article first appeared on Yap About Football.

9 Responses

  1. Sav says:

    Why not compare the 35 mil paid for Carroll to the 50 mil paid for Torres? Was that better value?
    No point trying to apply real-world values to such things and Shane Long’s got nothing to do with it, either.
    In my opinion, Carroll is probably not worth 35 million (unless you believe Torres is worth 50) but neither is he as bad a player as the hacks are mocking him for. He will eventually come good but for now he is a naive lad with a huge price tag.

  2. ToonScouse says:

    Andy is top class. Physically he is a superb athlete…Long is only a bit part player by comparison..

    1. Neil Sherwin Neil Sherwin says:

      Carroll is not ‘top class’ and never will be.

      Thanks for the chuckle though.

  3. Jimmy says:

    Good article, some real facts without the bluster.
    Sav, if you are going to bring Torres into to well when Chelsea paid the £50m for him he was already an established international, had over 200+ La Liga appearances, over 100 appearances with Liverpool with scoring rate better than a goal every other game. Not to mention the World Cup and European C’ship winners medal!

  4. Pavel says:

    Great article – some cold hard analysis as opposed to the usual clichés and agendas! It’s hard to argue with statistics!

  5. Common Sense says:

    If you followed proceedings when in became obvious that Torres was going to go Liverpool told Chelsea the Price was 15m plus his replacement. Mike Ashley just did some good business by saying the replacement cost 35m. That is all, Carroll has not reached his potential but forget the pricetag.

  6. Padman says:

    I agree with Pavel,

    Love the cold hard stats versus match of the day type drivel…good article…

  7. Padman says:

    @Common Sense

    What are you talking about? I haven’t heard should nonsense since I lost 90 mins of my life watching The Fast and the Furious way back when!

    Kenny paid Newcastle £35 mil for Carroll, start, beginning and end of. It was lunacy in any mans language. Trying to justify it by saying well he got X for Torres is as watertight as a teabag…

  8. Josh says:

    No. This doesn’t prove that West Brom are the best at business. I, being a Toon fan hate Mike Ashley. But I can’t deny he is a fantastic business man. We sold Carroll for £35M and replaced him with Demba Ba on a free. Ba has already scored 11 goals in 12 games for us this season. We have also bought Davide Santon with a mear £5M of that fee, and used £300,000 of it on Yohan Cabaye, with most of his fee coming from the sale of the lesser Kevin Nolan.

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