Cole is a name steeped heavily in Premier League folklore. Ashley has become the greatest left back of his generation. Joe played an integral part in THAT championship winning Mourinho side. Andrew won numerous titles, breaking even more goalscoring records.
However there is one Cole that is still waiting for his defining Premier League moment. After playing a vital role in the Hammers promotion back to the promised land, Carlton Cole has an opportunity to make this Premier League season his defining season.
The striker is embarking on his seventh season at the Hammers and has played a significant part in the club’s most recent history. Since his move from Chelsea in 2006, Cole has established himself as the club’s out and out number nine. Living in the shadow of the likes of Carlos Tevez and Bobby Zamora, Cole soon began to excel and has now made nearly 200 appearances for the club. When in the mood, Carlton Cole can make some of the best defenders in the country look like Christian Dailly (sorry Christian)! Performances against Spurs and United in recent years stick out in my mind particular, as well as his efforts in the Play Off Final at Wembley in May, but frustratingly this calibre of performance hasn’t happened consistently enough, as yet.
The England international’s starting place seemed to be under threat after the club’s transfer activity this summer with the arrival of first the Malian forward, from Sochaux, Modibo Maiga, and then Andy Carroll especially, threatening his future. The loan signing of former Hammer, Yossi Benayoun has also bolstered the attacking options that Sam Allardyce has at his disposal.
But after rejecting advances from Fenerbache and Stoke City the previous summer, and playing a huge part in gaining promotion for the boys in Claret and Blue at the first attempt, Cole is looking to reap the benefits of his loyalty and commitment to the side. After Andy Carroll’s impressive debut came to an abrupt end against Fulham a few weeks ago, Cole now has another chance to prove his Premier League pedigree. A chance to prove to all of those who have doubted his ability to play in the best league in the world wrong. After all, a striker with seven international caps for allegedly the third best team in the world can’t be too bad.
There is no doubt that West Ham fans have seen enough already of Andy Carroll to suggest that he will play a key role this season whether that’s just until January or beyond. The alarming lack of firepower at Anfield suggests that a call from Brendan Rodgers on January 1st may be on its way, that is if of course if he is still in the job. The Geordie’s link up play with Kevin Nolan conforms to Big Sam’s style and although it’s not always pretty, it gets results as the first 52 seconds suggested against Fulham. His injury is rotten luck but on the bright side at least it didn’t happen around the daunting Christmas time fixtures.
It is not only Cole that must step up in Carroll’s absence. Promising performances have been made by Maiga as well as the man responsible for our Premier League return Ricardo Vaz Te, in the opening few games. A couple of cameo performances from academy graduate, Robert Hall also suggest that the future may well be bright. The club’s record signing, Matt Jarvis provided the most crosses in the Premier League last season. Combine that with the delivery of Matt Taylor and Mark Noble, plenty of chances are expected to be created at Upton Park this season. These are the sort of statistics that any forward thrives on and Carlton Cole is no different. Although he is not AS dominant as Carroll in the air, Nolan aside, Cole is our next best header of the ball in an attacking sense. With games against the likes of Norwich, Sunderland and QPR on their way, goals are definitely up for grabs.
Cole turns 29 in a few weeks’ time which means realistically he only has three seasons at a maximum to fulfil his full potential as an out and out Premier League striker. I don’t want to tempt fate but there are definitely three worse off teams than us this season. Relegation shouldn’t be crossing any Hammers fans and especially players’ minds, certainly at this stage. The depth of our squad should see us finish comfortably so at least a couple of seasons at the summit of English football are guaranteed for the number nine.
But Carlton is in a position now that he can’t take these kind of opportunities that he is presented with for granted. He is now playing for his future. As one of the clubs longest serving players, he will want to lead the team to the Olympic Stadium as a Premier League side. Carlton Cole must hit the ground running, stay fit, and do what he enjoys most. Scoring goals. We know he can do it!