West Ham United: Is it time for Carlton Cole to hit gold in front of goal?
As far as football terrace songs go, West Ham's rendition of Spandeu Ballet's classic Gold for their main man Carlton Cole is spot on. 'Carlton Cole, (Cole), always believe in your soul, you have the power to know, your indestructible, always believe in, Carlton Cole, (Cole).' But will this be the season he really finds his feet in front of goal for the Hammers in the top flight?
As the song says, Carlton Cole has to believe in himself. At 28 the England international is built like an ox, strong in the air, quick on the ground, has a great touch and can give defenders nightmares. However, Cole has failed to score more than 10 times in any Premier League season and his inconsistency has many a West Ham fan tearing chunks out of their barnets.
The former Chelsea man arrived at the Boleyn Ground in 2006 and struggled for form as the Hammers fought valiantly to retain their Premier League survival. The following season he started to settle into life across the capital but it wasn't until the 2008/09 season where he really stepped up to the plate.
Cole scored 10 Premier League goals that season and had a hand in five more as the Hammers finished in the top half. Nurtured by his former Chelsea team-mate and now West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola, Cole blossomed and his impressive form saw him enter the international fold.
He managed to hit double figures again the following season in the Premier League but Zola's dismissal saw the goals dry up for him under Avram Grant, as the Hammers slipped into the Championship.
His efforts last season, along with the likes of Ricardo Vaz Te, Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble, got the Hammers back up at the first time of asking, but with the World Cup in 2014 looming, can Cole hit gold in front of goal in the top flight and regain his place in the England set up?
Although Carlton Cole is a striker, there is so much more to his game. Cole is very much a team player. He will run the channels, he will try and get in behind the defence and he will drop back and get involved in games. His brute strength and clever feet brings team-mates into games and creates goalscoring opportunities for them. However, goalscorers are judged on the amount of goals they score and I believe Cole can do a lot better.
The West Ham number 10 has to be praised though for staying loyal to the Hammers when it could have been easier for him to walk away. Cole could have left when West Ham went down and the likes of Stoke City and Galatasary came sniffing around, but he even took a pay cut to stay and get the Irons back in the Premier League. That dedication has to be commended.
Sam Allardyce has a proven Premier League pedigree. It may not be the greatest football in the world to watch but he gets his teams prepared for battle and keeps teams up. Carlton Cole will be an integral part of his plans, but can Cole repay his manager's faith in him with goals?
Calling all West Ham fans: How do you rate Carlton Cole? Do you believe he has it in him to score more than 10 top flight goals this season? What do you make of the impending arrival of Andy Carroll from Liverpool? Can the Hammers stay up this season? Whatever your view, we'd love to hear from you.
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