West Ham’s Cole - ‘We were diabolical’ - EXCLUSIVE
Hammers striker Carlton Cole was emotional when discussing Saturday’s miserable 3-0 defeat at Anfield.
AN ACCUSATION often levelled by supporters towards Premier Lea-gue players is that they don’t care, that a poor performance or a bad defeat has little effect on them.
Not so Carlton Cole. The West Ham striker came out of the dressing room at Anfield following the 3-0 thumping by Liverpool as if every goal had been a punch to his stomach.
While others shuffled out to the coach unwilling to discuss that performance and that defeat, Cole clearly wanted to get some things off his chest.
“That was diabolical,” he said. “We can come here and talk a good game and say we are going to do this to them and come with a game plan, but we didn’t even turn up for this game.”
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He was right of course, and it was refreshing to listen to someone so clearly affected by his team’s dismal display.
“In the first 10 minutes we had lost the game, psychologically anyway. I’m lost for words now, I can’t speak too much because I get emotional with these things and it gets on my nerves and I don’t want to talk about certain things.”
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One of those things is likely to be a toothless West Ham display which saw Cole hardly receive the ball all afternoon, and when he did he was surrounded by three or four defenders and backed up by absolutely no-one.
“I think I had just one cross today, apart from that I had nothing and as a striker, that’s starvation, that’s famine – what am I supposed to work on?” he lamented.
“The first 10 minutes we dropped so deep. I can only remember one time when the ball came up to me and I kind of miscontrolled it, but we still retained possession, then I looked to my left and there was no-one attacking – there was nobody there at all.
“The game plan was for me to stay as the longest person away from everybody and try to hit me on the diagonal or something, but we weren’t even doing that, so that went out of the window and we didn’t have a plan B.”
Once again the 4-5-1 system that Grant favours was found wanting. Whereas at Birmingham it worked a treat as Scott Parker and Valon Behrami sprinted into the box to help Cole out, here there was nothing for the striker to work with.
“When we changed to 4-4-2 in the second half, I felt more comfortable because someone was up there with me and I felt that we were starting to get on the ball a little more,” said the 27-year-old England international.
“But then I got taken off and I was like, okay, that’s not what they want me to do. They would rather I stood up there on my own, trying to make nothing happen.”
So what was the game plan? Was it to sit back and hit Liverpool on the counter-attack? Apparently not.
“It looked like it didn’t it?” said Cole. “That was not the game plan. We tried to get them on the back foot and just play our game really.
“No counter-attack, we were going to go out there and put them under, but that didn’t even happen so it looked like we came here to defend.”
West Ham were not helped by the absence of Scott Parker with a chest infection and Cole felt that was partly to blame for their lack of cutting edge in midfield.
“Scott Parker is the main figurehead at West Ham and he is just the sort of player we need in games like this,” admitted the former Chelsea man.
“We needed to get in there in midfield and make Liverpool a bit more uncomfortable. Mark Noble is a good player, Kovac came in and I think he did all right, but he hasn’t played for a while and he is a defensive midfielder. We didn’t have anyone driving forward.
“You can’t fit a circle into a square hole, so how can you try? I just don’t understand that.”
He’s right of course. For all Kovac’s defensive abilities, he is not going to storm into the box to get on the end of a cross, while similarly, playing the likes of strikers Freddie Piquionne and Victor Obinna on the flanks, is hardly the best use of their talents.
By the end, centre half James Tomkins was playing right back, while right back Lars Jacobsen was on the left.
Cole admitted that every one of the players has his chin on the floor.
“I’m deflated. I’m not happy and I hope something can happen as soon as possible because we need to change this asap,” said the striker, who has only one goal to his name this season. “Everyone is deflated and we feel we let ourselves down.
“The first goal shouldn’t have been a goal, we’ve been working on set-pieces all week. So when you put in that work and say we’re not going to concede from a corner kick or whatever, and then it goes in, it is such a sucker punch.”
The whole game seems to have been a sucker punch for Cole, but perhaps the most important thing is that he really cares about the situation.
Opinions still vary among supporters about the abilities of a player who has now made 139 appearances in claret and blue, but one thing you can never accuse the big striker of, is that he doesn’t care.
He cares as much as any West Ham fan and right now he is hurting.