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Tony Cottee: Forget the error, Carlton Cole has the world at his feet

PUBLISHED: 18:03 26 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:46 05 October 2010

Carlton Cole (L) of West Ham and Ledley King (rear) of Tottenham battle for the ball during the English Premiership match between West Ham United FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at West Ham`s Upton Park stadium, east London, on August 23,2009. AFP PHOTO/GEOFF CADDICK   FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY Additional licence required for any commercial/promotional use or use on TV or internet (except identical online version of newspaper) of Premier League/Football League photos. Tel DataCo +44 207 2981656. Do not alter/modify photo. (Photo credit should read Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images)

Carlton Cole (L) of West Ham and Ledley King (rear) of Tottenham battle for the ball during the English Premiership match between West Ham United FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC at West Ham`s Upton Park stadium, east London, on August 23,2009. AFP PHOTO/GEOFF CADDICK FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY Additional licence required for any commercial/promotional use or use on TV or internet (except identical online version of newspaper) of Premier League/Football League photos. Tel DataCo +44 207 2981656. Do not alter/modify photo. (Photo credit should read Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images)

2009 AFP

Carlton Cole must put his howler against Spurs out of his mind and focus on becoming an England regular, says Tony Cottee

By TONY COTTEE

As a striker, it's important to have a short memory. You miss a chance, you make a mistake - move on, forget about it.

I was always very good at putting missed opportunities and glaring errors out of my mind. Now, looking back on my career, it seems like I scored every time I had a shot.

It's a mindset Carlton Cole will have to adopt this week after his hero-to-villain performance in Sunday's defeat against Spurs.

He had given West Ham the lead with a truly sensational strike - as soon as he hit it, I was up on my feet because it was going in from the second it left his foot.

I'm showing my age here, but it reminded me of Justin Fashanu's goal of the season against Liverpool in 1980 - both of them flicked the ball up and smashed it in.

But minutes later, Cole was involved in the turning point in the game when he tried to fizz a back-pass to someone and of all the people on the pitch, it ended up going to the worst person possible as Jermain Defoe smashed it home.

You only had to look at Carlton at the final whistle to see how he felt - he just collapsed on the floor and didn't move for about 30 seconds. He knew that his error had let Spurs back into the game.

The only thing you don't need to be told as a player is whether you played well or badly.

Of course, it's always nice to get a pat on the back from the gaffer. But you don't actually need the manager to say, "What a great goal that was" because you already know.

And it's the same when you make a mistake - you know that you're at fault and Carlton will have known that his mistake gave Spurs the momentum to go on and win a game they'd been in danger of losing.

Perhaps the adrenaline was still running high. The buzz you get from scoring a screamer like that gets the adrenaline pumping through your body and it can take five or six minutes to settle yourself down, so perhaps that contributed to the mistake.

It certainly looked that way because Carlton hit the ball so hard, which was part of the problem. If he had underhit the pass, someone probably could've intercepted it and cleared, but he whacked it so hard that none of the defenders had a chance to react until it was too late.

The important thing is that Carlton now focuses on everything else he did in the game, because apart from that one moment of madness, he was fantastic.

His overall game was exceptional and against a Spurs side full of quality players, he was up there with the best players on the pitch.

As a striker, his contribution in the final third of the pitch was amazing because he was very isolated at times, but he's got so much pace and power that he still managed to put the Spurs defence under real pressure.

If you think back to out home defeat against Spurs last season, Carlton struggled to make an impression against Ledley King. On Sunday, he caused him no end of problems.

His transformation over the last 12 months has been nothing short of astonishing, but there's no secret to it - it's just confidence.

A lot of people laugh at that, but I remember someone telling me that football is 30 per cent ability and 70 per cent confidence - if you're a good player and you're playing with confidence, you can almost make yourself into a world-class player.

That's exactly what Carlton has done. The way he hit that shot with his left foot - this time last year, he wouldn't have thought of attempting a shot like that. And if he had, it would've ended up in the back of the Bobby Moore stand.

He really has turned his game around. Only a year ago, West Ham fans were seriously questioning whether he was the right man for the club - and I was one of them.

No one knew if he could be the answer and replace Dean Ashton because those were very big shoes to fill.

But he's done it by becoming more confident as a player and the manager and his assistant Steve Clarke deserve credit for building him up.

I don't want to get carried away, but I'm convinced that his performance on Sunday will have impressed someone who sitting about six rows away from me in the directors' box - Fabio Capello.

I think Capello will seriously think about playing him in the next two games against Slovenia and Croatia because he's playing so well at the moment.

If you look at the other players that offer something similar for England, there's Peter Crouch and Emile Heskey and I think Carlton is miles ahead of those two in the pecking order.

That's not just going on his club performances either. He did really well in a brief cameo against Holland a couple of weeks ago and he thoroughly deserves his place in the squad.

In fact, there's Wayne Rooney and Defoe as the top two strikers and after that you've got to say that Carlton's the third choice.

And 12 months ago, who would've guessed that?

Tony Cottee was talking to Jonathan Clegg.


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