If talk of finding a striker with guaranteed goals had disconcerted Andy Carroll, he showed no signs of resentment in a towering performance in West Ham’s 3-2 defeat to Juventus at the new London stadium.
The pre-season friendly was arranged to christen West Ham’s new home with some big name visitors and 53,966 crowd saw the Italians dominate the game.
Juve looked like being the ultimate party-poopers but Carroll’s determined display provided something to cheer other than the stadium itself. Carroll looked lean, hungry and happy and keen to dispel the notion that he wasn’t the natural choice upfront.
Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic gave the visitors a commanding 2-0 lead before Carroll and West Ham got in on the act. Simone Zaza hit the deserved winner for Juventus.
Still there was plenty to cheer – not least the appearance of Dimitri Payet back with West Ham after his summer successes with France. Juve took the opportunity to give their record signing a run in the summer sun.
Gonzalo Higuain signed from Napoli for £75million but struck a portly figure on the pristine turf while West Ham manager Slaven Bilic used the opportunity to give some young players a run-out, including Reece Oxford and Domingos Quina, all wearing tribute Thames Ironworks shirts.
Manager Slaven Bilic was reasonably happy with the showing if not the result.
He told the club website : “It was a good test for us. We started sloppily – they are a top class team and if you are on the back foot and give them a yard, they can pass the ball and play football. If you give them three or four yards then it’s too easy for them.
“We thought it was going to end 2-2, but then we conceded one that from our point of view was too easy and sloppy. It was a packed stadium against one of the biggest clubs and best teams in Europe. It was a good test for us and great to see the fans filling our stadium again.”
As for Andy Carroll, he said: “He will do those things, not only scoring goals, he is a top quality player. It is not a surprise for us, it is how he played last season, and for Liverpool and Newcastle. If he stays away from injuries then he has a great chance to have a great season.”
However, as he was saying that, £20million Andre Ayew of Swansea was completing his deal to join the West Ham front line from Swansea.
Andy Carroll said : “It was a good day, the fans came out and were great in the lovely weather. It was nice to get scoring goals in this stadium as soon as possible and get a feel for it. It was good for the fans who turned up, too.
“I’m feeling good, you know. I got through pre-season really well, so now I’m just looking forward to the start of the season and to keep producing my performances and scoring goals and for the team to do well.”
“I’ve been screaming out for crosses into the box since I’ve been here and two came in on Sunday and I’ve got my head on them and they ended up in the back of the net, which was great,” he said.