Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has hit out at Liverpool striker Andy Carroll for not taking a penalty against Italy.
Writing in his column in the Daily Star, Merson blasted the 23-year-old striker for not taking a penalty during England’s Euro 2012 quarter final shoot-out with Italy on Sunday.
With the game ending goalless after extra-time, it went down to the dreaded penalty shoot-out. Captain Steven Gerrard, striker Wayne Rooney and winger Ashley Young all stepped up to take a penalty from the spot, with Young hitting the bar, but the decisive kick was left to defender Ashley Cole.
The Chelsea man saw his effort saved and England crashed out, and Merson didn’t hold back in his criticism of Carroll for not making sure he was among the penalty takers.
“Andy Carroll should be ashamed of himself. It’s an absolute disgrace that he didn’t take a penalty for England. He cost £35m – it’s his job to score goals!
Ashley Cole is the best left-back in the world. It’s his job to defend, not score goals. That’s what Carroll is there for. How he doesn’t take a penalty in front of Cole is disgusting. It winds me up so much.
Even if Roy Hodgson had him down to take the fifth, that’s not an excuse. It’s not good enough. Your best takers go first. It’s no good having Lionel Messi waiting to take the last penalty if your team is already out, is it?
When I was at the World Cup as a player, if I had stood there and let Tony Adams or Gary Neville take one before me, I’d be ashamed of myself.
That’s a striker’s job. That’s what they are paid to do. Since the age of 10, or whenever he started, he’s been told to score goals.
Carroll will be one of our main centre-forwards going into the next World Cup – and he won’t step up and take a penalty? It doesn’t fill you with confidence.”
Merson blasted in the Daily Star.
Is Merson’s criticism fair? Not really, no. We have no idea how Roy Hodgson came to decide the penalty takers and perhaps Andy Carroll DID put himself forward but was over-ruled by the manager. It’s Hodgson’s decision, end of story.
All the players practiced penalties before the game, so no doubt the coaching staff assessed who they thought were the best takers. Should you select a striker ahead of a defender simply based on their positions on the pitch? Of course you shouldn’t. David Unsworth, Leighton Baines, Dennis Irwin and Graeme Alexandre are just a few full backs who all have excellent records at taking penalties over the years for their club and country.
Cole also has FAR more experience in taking a pressure penalty than Carroll. He scored a penalty in a champions league final last month for goodness sake! Incidentally, 2 midfielders and a striker missed in that shoot-out. While 3 defenders and a goalkeeper all scored. What does Mr Merson have to say about that?
Nobody knows if Carroll would have scored or not, but the decision to go with Cole will have been made with the best interest of the team at heart and he was probably the best choice, regardless of what Merse says.
What do you think of Merson’s criticism? Get involved in the comments section.