Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Player Comparison: Joe Cole vs Ricardo Vâz Te

Joe Cole vs Ricardo Vâz Te
31 Age 26
26 Squad Number 12
5'9" Height 6'2"

West Ham United Career
04/01/2013 Joined 31/01/2012
Liverpool From Barnsley
Free Transfer Reported Fee £750,000

134(24) Appearances 35(8)
15 Goals 14

02/01/1999 Debut 04/02/2012
Swansea City vs Millwall

30/11/1999 Debut Goal 21/02/2012
Birmingham City vs Blackpool

Throughout the course of a rather successful season for West Ham almost all positions in the side have been nailed down by certain players. I think in any given game, it’s possible to name at least 9 of the likely starters.

One position that doesn’t feel quite so secure though, is on the right wing. A few players have been tried there this season, Jack Collison, Gary O’Neil, Modibo Maïga, Matthew Taylor, Yossi Benayoun, even Kevin Nolan had a go (he was rubbish at it though!).

However, two players seem to have moved to the front of the queue. Last season’s play off hero Ricardo Vâz Te and the recently returned academy graduate Joe Cole.

Both Cole and Vâz Te have had highs and lows in a West Ham shirt this season, but who has impressed more, and do we need to move into the market for a new option when the transfer window opens again in a month’s time?

In terms of their performances this season, both players are rather evenly matched; just 1 point separates their Capello Index ratings this season. Each player has areas in which they outperform one another. Vâz Te, for example, attempts more shots on goal per game than Cole, he also beats his man more regularly, wins more free kicks and carries out more defensive work.

The image below shows Ricardo's success in duels this season. 

On the other hand, Cole creates more chances for his team mates, has a higher crossing accuracy, swings in significantly more crosses per game, and has a higher passing accuracy. The chart below shows the chances created by Joe since joining West Ham (Yellow = Chances Created; Blue = Assists (League Only)).

Both players are regarded as flair players, exciting outlets who can surprise us all, but they each have a distinctly different style of play. It is not uncommon to see Cole spend time roaming in off the right flank, getting in and around the lone striker and looking to feed through passes (he plays more through balls per game than any other player), whilst Vâz Te seems to spend more time out wide ready to take on a fullback, usually only coming inside when a shooting opportunity has presented itself.

According to the Capello Index rating system, Cole’s best West Ham performance this season came at home against Queens Park Rangers, whilst Vâz Te’s came in the recent two all draw with Manchester United.

The images below show each players action zones in these games (Cole first, Vâz Te second). As you can see, both players made the majority of their touches in the right wing area, but the distribution of their play in other areas is very different.

Cole, for example, takes a number of touches in the central midfield area, also popping up on the left. Vâz Te, for example, spends far more time out wide, but also took a higher proportion of touches back defending than Cole.


Other than individual performance, the next area of consideration is how the team performs with them in the side. Sometimes a player can seem to offer nothing to a team, but when they are removed from the side you notice that they have an influence in their team mates or the style of play that you wouldn’t have even thought about, Lucas Neill is a good example of this.

I decided to look at some stats of how the team performed whilst each player was on the pitch, and I’ve been somewhat surprised at the results. Interestingly, we seem to do better at home with Vâz Te, and better away with Cole.

At home we score more goals, take more shots, concede less and complete a higher proportion of our passes when Ricardo is on the pitch. Away from home, we score more, shoot more, and cross more when Joe is playing, though we concede less and have a better passing accuracy with Vâz Te.

So, a conclusion. It’s a tough one, I have to say. I like Vâz Te. I’ll always remember his goals last season, he’s had moments of real quality this season, and his pace and willingness to take on his man make him an exciting player to have around.

Joe Cole, on the other hand is a hero. He was my idol in my early teens, and I cried when he left for West London ten years ago. His homecoming was one of those moments in football that make you feel like a kid again.

If we could mix together the two then we’d be made, but, unless someone can tell me otherwise, there isn’t a Ricardjoe Vaz Cole playing anywhere currently.

If push came to shove and I could only keep one, I’d keep Cole. Vâz Te’s best moments can be absolutely wonderful, but they are few and far between. In his worst moments he can be awful, and that is the main difference between him and Joe. When Cole is having a bad game, you can still rely on him to pick that one pass, put in that one cross to change the game. When Vaz is playing badly, you probably wouldn’t even know he was on the pitch.

But, if truth be told, if I were sat in Sam Allardyce’s shoes in after the final whistle is blown against Reading, I think I’d be out looking for a new right winger.

(League Only)
6(2) Appearances 16(6)
2 Goals 2
0 Assists 4

63.23 Average CI Rating 62.23

Offensive Play
10 Attempts 40
1.3 per App 1.8

15 Chances Created 25
1.9 per App 1.1

64 Crosses 57
19 Successful 14
30% Accuracy 25%

3 Successful Dribbles 17
0.4 per App 0.8

209 Passes Attempted 479
167 Successful 347
80% Accuracy 72%

6 Fouled 28
0.8 per App 1.3

Defensive Play
6 Tackles 29
0.8 per App 1.3

5 Interceptions 22
0.6 per App 1.0

2 Clearances 22
0.3 per App 1.0

6 Fouls 18
0.8 per App 0.8

2 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0

42 Misplaced Passes 132
5.3 per App 6.0

3 Turnovers 27
0.4 per App 1.2

19 Dispossessed 26
2.4 per App 1.2

64 Total Lost Possession 185
8.0 per App 8.4

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