Tuesday, 15 October 2013

New Signing: Carlton Cole

Carlton Cole

DOB: 12/10/1983
Age: 30
Position: Striker

Previous Club: West Ham United
Previous Division: Premier League

Transfer Date: 14/10/2013
Reported Fee: Free Transfer

Depending on who you're talking to, the re-signing of Carlton Cole on a three month contract, a little over four months since he departed the club on a free transfer, is either an embarrassment - a sign of a shambolic transfer window -, or the club doing what the set out to do.

Back in June, if Carlton had signed a new contract, we'd signed Andy Carroll, and added Mladen Petric, I think most people would have been pretty pleased with that business. Whilst the end result is that we have all three of those players, I think it's safe to say that the order and manner in which these transfers took place is typical West Ham United!

Despite the fact that many feel this signing unnecessary given the outstanding strikerless victory against Spurs the other week, the addition of a Carlton Cole does a couple of important things.

Firstly, it gives us another game plan. We can now play with the 'False 9' in Morrison and Diamé. We can play with a small striker in to feet with Petric. We can now play with a big man. We can now pair little and large and go with two up top. Whether he's the best striker in the world or not (he's not, by the way) Carlton gives us another string to our bow in Andy Carroll's continued absence.

The second thing that this transfer does, and this is something that 99% of fans will be pleased about, is that it pushed Modibo Maiga one place further down the pecking order to start as a lone striker. Personally, I still feel that the Malian has something to offer coming in off the flanks, but I think we might not see him in claret and blue in the immediate future.

So what can we expect from Carlton? In what was meant to be his final season with the club, his goalscoring record was appalling. Let's not sugar coat it: two goals and two assists in 29 appearances is rubbish. 

That said, it was out of the norm.

In the previous five seasons, Carlton was involved in (scored or assisted) at least 14 goals per season. He was our top scorer in 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11 and in 2011/12. In total, across his West Ham United career, Carlton has managed one goal every four games, and has been involved in a goal every 2.6 games.

One of the main criticisms of Modibo Maiga this season has been his perceived lack of desire. One thing most of can agree on is that Carlton Cole loves West Ham United. He loves our club, and feels at home here. He would, and will, give anything for the shirt and for the fans.

In what was quite probably his best performance last season, against Chelsea, Carlton demonstrated just what he can be about when on song. 

The heat map below shows the positions he took up during the game. You can clearly see that Carlton worked all over the pitch, dropping back into midfield and even defence to help protect against Chelsea's attacking talents. And he was heavily involved in and around the area, scoring the equalising goals and then setting up Mohamed Diamé's goal to put us into the lead.

Is this a great transfer? No. Is it a good transfer? Maybe, it remains to be seen. Does this weaken us in any way? No, it doesn't.

The truth is, Carlton Cole is a well respected that popular figure at our club. If he can contribute even a little bit on the field, well, a three month contract can't hurt. 

And the fact remains, only 19 men have ever scored more goals for West Ham United than Carlton Cole has. Only two men (Paolo Di Canio & Trevor Sinclair) have scored more Premier League goals for West Ham United than Carlton Cole has.

So, if you're asking me if I'm overchuffed, I'd probably say no. But I bet the reception he gets when he walks back out at the Boleyn gives me shivers.

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