Once again it is only Chinese whispers, but I must admit that the increasing transfer speculation of a potential ‘Carlton Cole to Villa’ transaction is now certainly getting the better of me. Is Cole a decent player? I suppose he is. Has he improved since his uninspiring loan spell at the Villains 5 years ago? Of course he has. Is he top 5 material? Absolutely not.
Because when Cole left Villa in the Summer of 2005, he went about trying to improve on his one goal in nine games form that he treated the club with – and no doubt, he has turned himself into an effective front man since then – unfortunately for him though, in the time it has taken him to be considered a serious Premier League footballer, Aston Villa Football Club have improved twice as quickly. Maybe if we were still languishing in the apathetic mid-table region of the Cole era (or at 16th place the year to follow), the England hopeful would be welcomed back. But after restoring Midlands pride, after resurrecting Villa hope, after consistent top 6 finishes and after creating Champions League and Cup visionaries out of us, it would be an insult to the hard work, the diligent progress and to the dreams of tomorrow if we were to acquire the limited services of an overpriced Carlton Cole.
Not good enough
And I’ll tell you why…
Yes, Carlton Cole is a decent striker who is probably every bit as competent as Emile Heskey. Having flirted with the England set up, the 6’ 3” West Ham man demonstrated that his strong target man abilities, his powerful dynamic running and a good first touch can be made useful. And after a rich vein of early season form, Cole took all the plaudits and was lauded as the Hammers’ main man.
But is 9 goals this league campaign really anything to get excited about? Or is Cole’s 3 assists this whole season something to boast? For a self-professed selfless player, I don’t think his “team contribution” is all that hot. Although, the Croydon born player suggested, “[setting up goals] was what I was known for. That was my thing…” However, if you ask me, West Ham’s ‘asset’ isn’t as constructive as he’d like to think.
He explains how he is a “team player”, but out of West Ham’s 44 goals this year, Carlton Cole has only contributed to 27% of them. 27% isn’t that bad a statistic but this reality should surely undermine the notion that Cole is being held back by West Ham’s lack of success. He hasn’t been carrying the East London outfit by any means. Because if he was in fact a big fish in a small pond, surely his return would be much greater than this.
Admittedly, Carlton was injured and missed 9 of West Ham’s league games and some have suggested (himself included) that he is still trying to get back to fitness. But since his return, Cole has played 13 games and pitched in with just 2 goals. I’m sorry, I know I’m not a Sport Scientist (yet), but I believe that 13 games is more than enough time to regain any temporary loss in sharpness and 13 games in a would-be-World Cup forward’s career should produce better results than 2 goals and 1 assist. And even before his injury, West Ham’s first 14 games showed an “in-form” Carlton Cole take responsibility for just 8 goals. That’s almost a goal involvement tally of just one in every 160 minutes. And this at the height of his playing career to date. Even the pitiable David N’gog can put this stat to shame.
So Villa are already blessed with equally as average centre forwards like Emile Heskey and I have been calling for the signing of Kevin Doyle in his place. These names aren’t exactly capable of overshadowing Carlton Cole, but Doyle has been directly involved in 31% (4 more than Cole) of his team’s league goals this season and on top of that, the Irish man has lead the line superbly well for the newly promoted outfit all on his own every week, without fail. And maybe I should mention the fact that having been signed in the region of £6m just nine months ago, Doyle represents much, much better value for money than West Ham’s over-inflated valuation of £12m for their England darling (who is also the same age as Doyler).
If we were going to credit someone with the same price-tag as Young Player of the Year, James Milner, it should unquestionably be someone worthwhile – and certainly not a forward whose highest ever scoring performance for a season stands humbly at 10 goals. When I look at Carlton Cole playing, I sometimes think he can do certain things well (but not to the standard that some media reports would suggest). And of course when I analyze his asking price in comparison with his stats, I’m overcome with nothing but sheer bemusement.
Conversely, if you roll your eyes up just one position in the Premier League table, you will find another small pond, Wigan Athletic. And in it, you will find a much bigger, much more worthwhile fish in the shape of one, Hugo Rodallega. At 24, the Columbian is not only subjectively a fantastic footballer and easily looks like an actual “main man” at the DW, his statistical performances show up any concept of buying Carlton Cole as ludicrous and baffling.
With the same amount of goals as the English forward (9), Rodallega has also contributed a highly impressive 8 direct assists in a team with a considerably lower ‘goals for’ tally. And with a key role to play in a staggering 48.5% of their goals this season, Wigan are almost solely indebted to the contribution of Rodallega for their survival.
Moreover, feeding off consistent assists from Mark Noble, Diamanti, Julian Faubert and Jack Collison, you would think Carlton Cole was better equipped to notch up greater scores on the stats board than his fellow relegation battlers. But the fact is that Rodallega, armed with no player as highly ranked as the mentioned Hammers, has dwarfed Cole’s performance (and done it on his own), and hopefully has dwarfed any notion that Cole would be a good signing for Villa this year.