Thursday, 29 January 2009

Carlton Cole

The Guardian

Carlton Cole has thanked his manager at West Ham United, Gianfranco Zola, for helping him achieve the best form of his career and win over supporters who had been vocal in their criticism.

The striker's goal in Wednesday's 2-0 victory over Hull City was his 10th of the season and his fifth in five league matches, equalling a club record set by Tony ­Cottee. Naturally, Cole is in ebullient mood but he admits his success could not have been achieved without Zola's help off the pitch.

"I'm playing with more awareness now," said Cole of the effect of the man he used to play alongside at Chelsea. "That is because the manager has made an effort in trying to make me aware of what's going on around me on the pitch. Because of that I'm now in the best form of my career. I've just got to keep on going. I'm not letting it get to my head – I just need to get in the right positions."

Such is Cole's confidence that he was even able to smile after several glaring misses against Hull. That, he admits, is partly down to the more relaxed atmosphere he finds himself playing in now, specifically at home, where he was regularly the target of abuse from frustrated supporters.

"It's nice to have the fans on my side now," he said. "I've been there when the fans ain't been really great to me and that's been tough. But I have them on my side [now] and they are really helping me out with my goals."

Cole's next chance to score comes tomorrow at Arsenal, where victory would be the Hammers' seventh in eight matches and could take them seventh in the table, just five points off a Uefa Cup spot.

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