Alan Pardew says Newcastle United still loves Andy Carroll. Carroll says he still loves Newcastle United and won't celebrate if he scores Sunday in his return to St. James' Park.
And I suggest Newcastle fans join in on this lovefest, although I know full well that plenty will boo Carroll and call him Judas when he walks out wearing the red of Liverpool. I understood why people were upset when Carroll was sold. He was the hometown boy who partied hard and played harder. He was the No. 9 who battered center backs. He was easy for fans to identify with.
What I can't understand is the continued vitriol toward him. We'll probably never truly know how Carroll felt about his move to Liverpool. Maybe he was forced out. Maybe he forced his way out. I don't really care. Carroll landed Newcastle £35 million, a ridiculous sum that has allowed the club to greatly accelerate its rebuilding process.
Had Carroll stayed, Newcastle might have been tempted to build around him and persist with the sort of gritty team that it had last season. Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton might have stayed because they fit that mold. And Newcastle would have been worse for it.
Instead, Newcastle has a young skillful team that is on the rise and has in large part been funded by that £35 million. And for that, we should all thank - not boo - Andy Carroll.