Carroll can spare the blushes for England's World Cup flops
Last season I had the audacity to suggest that Andy Carroll should have been on the plane to South Africa for the World Cup with England.
The suggestion was scoffed at, but those who did aren't scoffing now.
And when they were crying into their beer after the exit of England in the World Cup, they wouldn't have been scoffing then either.
My reasoning behind it, was that Carroll would offer England both something different as well as possibly providing the element of surprise after a season under the radar in the Championship.
Just 11 games into the Premier League campaign and Carroll has six goals and four assists, and is now on the brink of the England squad with Fabio Capello an interested specator at the Emirates to see him power home an old fashioned centre-forward's goal.
Carroll woke up to headlines surrounding off the field activities but while many a young player would have crumbled following a spun up story that was quickly denied by United, the big Geordie went out and put in a performance of international class against one of the best teams in Europe.
England are a team in dire need of invention and devoid of ideas at the moment, with Carroll's towering presence, superb aerial abilities and a left foot that can cause more damage than a bull in a china shop - he is very much the real deal in the top flight.
Controversially, some might say, I am sympathetic to some of the off field attention that Carroll has became a victim of in his hometown.
Footballers do have a duty to act properly in public but this should not be a reason for the public to feel they can act how ever they like when footballer's are around.
They aren't special cases, but they are entitled to a life off the field.
Carroll is not a Billy big time, he signs more autographs for fans and poses for pictures in public then most footballers I've ever known.
But while he operates with an easy access policy off the field, the problem is the door is left open for any Tom, Dick or Harry to approach him in any given moment.
This has resulted in problems within the Goldfish Bowl, probably one of the most unforgiving places in the UK.
Unlike London, where Carroll would simply melt into the background, Newcastle is smaller and footballers always have been deemed public property in the eyes of some.
Expecting an autograph is one thing, but unfortunately, some people take it too far and in the case of the lad who threw a drink over Carroll in Blu Bambu in what could be deemed as a fit of jealously by a non-league player, it's evidence that players are easy targets for nut jobs intoxicated on a night out in the Bigg Market.
In Andy Carroll, you have a lad who has lived his whole life on Tyneside and up until two years ago could walk freely around the streets of Newcastle without being recognised.
It can't be easy to then have random punters throwing themselves at you left, right and centre.
At 21, he's still young and he will make mistakes - but surely that is the same for most 21-year-olds?
Carroll now knows that he carries with him the responsibility of thousands as the key to supporters' hopes and dreams wearing that number 9 shirt.
Asking a young player to become a monk, doesn't work, ask Andy Cole, hiding away almost drove him up the walls at Newcastle and ultimately added up to his exit at St James' Park.
For now, Carroll needs to stick to the stage he performs best on, the football field.
And if Capello has any sense, that stage should be the international one.
Because Carroll is mentally strong enough to cope with the biggest tests of them all.