We come away from a poor defeat at Swansea City where two appalling mistakes from Jussi Jaaskelainen and James Collins cost us the game yet much of the debate seemed to be able the performance of Carlton Cole.
Cole is a player that a number of West Ham fans dislike and they are not afraid to make their opinion known. I have never really understood the vitriol aimed at Cole. He is a player who off the pitch has conducted himself well and has made it publicly known how much he regards West Ham.
I know it is fashionable to dislike a player when watching West Ham and strikers such as Cole, Harewood, Piquionne, Kanoute, Wanchope and even Mike Small have been subject to much abuse over the years. There is, of course, a connection between those players but maybe it would be too cynical to suggest a unpleasant undertone to these criticisms. But let’s look at Carlton Cole and try to get to the bottom of the criticism towards him.
He was signed in 2006 by Alan Pardew for £2m in what was quite a low key purchase to boost numbers up front. When Cole was signed he had Bobby Zamora, Marlon Harewood, Teddy Sheringham, Dean Ashton and then Carlos Tevez in front of him. Yet he has somehow survived them all and has been our number one striker for quite some time.
The main criticism labelled at him is that he doesn’t score enough goals and this is one that is hard to disagree with. Despite this he has managed to be top scorer for the club (in all competitions) for the last four seasons and unless we bring in another central striker I wouldn’t be shocked to see him take this award for a fifth season.
Cole will get you between 10 and 12 goals a season. This may not be enough for some and the cry of bringing in a ’20 goal a season’ striker is often spouted. Last season only three strikers scored over 20 goals in the Premiership – Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero and Robin Van Persie. Which one of these should we sign then?
I find myself more often than not defending Carlton Cole. Not because I think he is a great striker (he isn’t) or even a player who I enjoy watching (he really isn’t) but the stick he gets is underserved most of the time and unnecessary. People love to call him lazy and this in itself is a lazy comment to make because it is not true.
Against Swansea even the commentators mentioned that he was receiving no service for him to make anything out of and whilst I believe he perhaps could concentrate a little more and be a bit sharper when the ball comes towards him he is not lazy.
If West Ham could bring in a better striker than Cole then we would but when you look around the Premier League at half the clubs they really don’t have players who I consider a massive improvement. He was criticised greatly last season in the Championship but he did manage to score a goal every other game which for a player of his limited ability is not bad.
And this is my point – Carlton Cole is not a great player, nor a great goal scorer. He never has been and he never will be. He will have his good games sure, and then his bad but he will never be consistent and if he was he would be a top player. Cole is best when the ball is played into his feet where he can control and turn with the ball. His finishing usually is effective only when he doesn’t have time to think, although now and again he shows us how good he can be when he can get it right (Spurs at home springs to mind).
I am unsure to why Cole is given such a rough time as he has never changed as a player throughout his professional career. The expectation for him to suddenly be ‘great’ is foolish and clearly many supporters have an agenda when it comes to having a pop at Carlton Cole. It has got to the point where I really believe we have fans who want Cole to fail so they can turn round to their mates and go on internet forums and say ‘I told you so’.
I find myself defending Cole on the basis that the criticisms towards him are unjust and not because I am big fan of him as a player. I hope we can bring in a player of better quality but if we don’t I’ll continue to cheer him and desperately want him to do well because when it comes to West Ham I’ll support any player who wears the shirt.
If you think Carlton Cole is a poor footballer then of course that is up to you. But why you think this is going to change I would love to know. But even if Cole was to leave I suspect fans would find some other player to slag off week in week out. After all, this is real West Ham way