Carlton Cole is sometimes nicknamed Can’t Control, but this picture shows that to be far from the truth.
England showed at the World Cup in South Africa that the 4-4-2 formation in football is now painfully outdated. The whole point in playing Heskey alongside Rooney was that the Aston Villa BFG brought out the best in England’s star player, but while Heskey tried his best – and was arguably England’s best player against the USA – Rooney was unable to fire. Perhaps unfairly, Heskey was dropped against Slovenia and Germany, and Rooney still failed to fire.
It is the 4-3-3 formation, which can easily revert to 4-5-1 when defending, that appears to be in vogue at the moment. In the modern game, pace tends to come from wide areas, with forwards cutting inside onto their favoured foot while rampaging full backs providing the width.
This means that the central striker role has changed. If a team plays 4-3-3, they are expected to hold the ball up and provide a creative role – as well as score goals themselves. The knock downs now go to on-rushing midfielders behind them, rather than a pacey striker ahead. The lone forward must be strong, and ideally tall, but Rooney’s success last season has shown that is not always necessary.
Carlton Cole ticks all these boxes, and last season seemed to come on in leaps and bounds. It is therefore no surprise that he is now a man in demand.
Having scored 4 goals in 5 pre-season matches already, Cole could well start the season running, and new West Ham United manager Avram Grant has made it clear he will not listen to offers.
Although West Ham have made a £13m bid for Nice striker Loic Remy, Grant said: “I don’t want to sell Carlton. He’s working very hard and his attitude is good.
“The new 4-3-3 system has helped him. We also have a team that knows how to play football, so they can pass to him at the right time.” (The Sun)
If the bid for Remy proves successful it remains to be seen what role he would play, but although his primary position is centre forward, he has certainly played on the wing many times for Nice.
Keeping West Ham’s key players could be as important to Grant as any new signings.