YOU might not want to leave your car with Andy Carroll, have a night out on the town with him or entertain him as a lodger, but you would be quite happy to let him lead your forward line every weekend if he continues to perform as he did at West Ham on Saturday.

It has been yet another turbulent week for the wearer of the club’s famous number nine shirt and one which he would most probably want to forget.

The United striker last week was charged with bodily assault on a former girlfriend and bailed to live with Newcastle skipper Kevin Nolan until January, when his case will be heard. Then his Range Rover was torched and insulting graffiti was daubed on Nolan’s garage. This morning Carroll will appear in court for a separate charge of assault in a Newcastle nightclub.

It is fair to say his name has been plastered in all the newspapers for the wrong reasons, but on Saturday he made headlines for all the right reasons.

The 21-year-old striker gave arguably his most accomplished performance in a black and white shirt to help his home-town club to a 2-1 win.

Carroll gave his landlord a first month’s installment on his rent when he got his head to Joey Barton’s testing back post cross and served up a chance for his housekeeper to equalise.

Carroll then paid next month’s installment in advance when he headed in Barton’s delicious delivery for the winner.

It was nothing more than Newcastle deserved after a tricky opening spell which saw them fall behind to a Carlton Cole strike on 12 minutes.

Barton knows a thing or two about controversy and brushes with the law. His career has been peppered with misdemeanours.

The United playmaker admitted he was not aware if the Magpies’ equaliser was dreamed up in Nolan’s front room and, although it is fair to say he wouldn’t be as forthcoming with lodging arrangements, he did make it known his door is always open if Carroll wants advice.

“I don’t know what goes on in that household,” chirped Barton.

“I wouldn’t want to live with Andy, but somebody has got to do it. Being out on the pitch can be a bit of a sanctuary at times. Me more than anyone, perhaps, in the modern game knows that. It was a sanctuary to me. Andy knows where we are and I’ve been in his shoes.

My reputation will probably last for a long time.

“I don’t know the ins and outs. Andy hasn’t been convicted of anything yet, the courts will take the necessary steps.

It’s futile for me to talk about it.

He is a great kid and a great lad.

He works hard every day and everyone supports him. If he loses that he will be in trouble.

He has shown us again today with his performance what it means to pull on the black and white jersey. As long as he keeps doing that, it’s nothing to do with me what he does outside of the football club.

“He’s a good guy, we all talk, we all converse. Has he come to me for advice? No, not really.

He’s got the world in front of him if he can keep doing what he is doing. The gaffer and the club will keep looking after him. If he wants to ask me for advice, he knows where I am.

He can score goals, he is a handful.

He is by no means the finished article, but he is a precocious talent and if that is channelled in the right way he has got the world at his feet.”

Newcastle manager Chris Hughton was equally fulsome in his praise of Carroll. The United boss was under pressure to drop his contentious striker from Saturday’s high-pressure clash. But Hughton kept faith and was rewarded by an outstanding display and Carroll’s fifth Premier League goal of the season.

“We asked him to add goals to his game last season, but he needs to get that type of service he did today. That makes life a little bit easier,” admitted Hughton, who saw his side leap to ninth in the table with a league win for the first time since mid September.

“He’s a mobile lad for his size but it was always going to be difficult for him to be the quickest.

But once he gets going he has a bit of power and pace. I thought that was his best game since the one against Manchester United.

“He’s a handful and we need that from him as regularly as we can. He played for football reasons. It has been a tough week for all and everyone has felt it. And I think everyone will be delighted to see him score.

“I made the decision (to play him). Sometimes you make good decisions and sometimes you make bad decisions. Sometimes you decide to leave a player out for one reason or another.

But I always knew I would play him going into this game.

“You can bounce ideas off someone but ultimately it was always going to be my decision to play him. And the decision is always justified, and not just with Andy Carroll.”

Chris Hughton is meeting managing director Derek Llambias tomorrow to discuss the vacant assistant manager’s post. Reports claiming former United coach Steve Clarke has been offered the job are wide of the mark.

Match facts


1-0: Cole (12, slid home from close range after Piquionne crossed across the box)

1-1: Nolan (23, swept in with left foot from ten yards after Carroll headed back Barton cross)

1-2: Carroll (69, headed delicious Barton cross past Green from four yards)

Bookings: None

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside) – You hardly noticed the match official, who booked no one, which means he must have had a good game 8

Attendance: 34, 486

Entertainment: ✰✰✰

WEST HAM UNITED (4-3-3): Green 5; Jacobsen 5, Upson 5 (Illunga, 52, 5), da Costa 4, Gabbidon 5; Behrami 5 (Barrera 76, 5), Parker 5, Noble 6, OBINNA 6, Cole 6, Piquionne 5 (McCarthy 67, 5).

Subs (not used): Stech, Boa Morte, Ben Haim, Faubert.


7 Krul: The United goalkeeper’s handling from crosses under pressure was almost flawless;

6 Simpson: Got over a difficult first half with a steady second half display

8 Coloccini: Strong, skilful and on this performance should be back in the Argentina team

6 Williamson: Arguably at fault for the goal but redeemed himself with a solid showing

6 Enrique: His usual game, industrious, linked up well with Gutierrez but distribution not up to standard;

8 BARTON: Two assists and just ran the show

8 Tiote: On this display unquestionably the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League

7 Nolan: Great timing, vision and awareness to anticipate Carroll’s knock down 7

Gutierrez: Not as productive as previous weeks but busy as always;

6 Ameobi: May not get the plaudits of his team-mates but put a good shift in

8 Carroll: Scored one and made one to put a difficult week off the pitch behind him

Subs (not used) Soderberg (gk), Routledge, Taylor R, Smith, Lovenkrands, Guthrie, Perch


JOEY Barton – Inspirational for 90 minutes and just edges it from Andy Carroll. Had a hand in both goals and could pass through the eye of a needle.