Is West Ham’s fan’s criticism unjust?

West Ham striker Carlton ColeOver the years, West Ham striker Carlton Cole has had to endure an increased amount of criticism from the club’s fans. Regular moans and groans have echoed throughout Upton Park when he has either entered the field of play, failed to win an ariel duel or missed a goal scoring opportunity.

But what these fans fail to see is his commitment to the club and the effort he puts in to playing for West Ham. They fail to see his contribution on the pitch and remember what he has done for the team since he arrived from Chelsea in 2006.

So, as a self-confessed member of the Carlton Cole fan club, I’d like to jog a few people’s memories, starting with his attacking contribution.

In 221 appearances in all competitions for the Hammers, Cole has scored 58 goals – his most recent being the equaliser in the brilliant 3-1 win over Chelsea last weekend. In the last four seasons he has finished as the club’s top scorer, with his highest tally coming last season (15). Additionally, the striker has assisted 27 goals in the six and a bit seasons he has enjoyed at the club with his most successful season being the 2007/2008 campaign when he chipped in with eight assists.

Now, many people will argue that averaging a goal every 3.81 games is not a good enough return for a striker will be partly right. But, when you consider that he has spent half of his West Ham career in a side battling relegation and one season playing in the Championship, it is fair to say that the 29-year-old hasn’t exactly been given the opportunity to thrive in a Premier League side performing well consistently.

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His goals last season were also massively important to West Ham’s promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Without seven of his league goals, the Hammers would have been 12 points worse off at the end of the season, which would have seen them finish seventh, missing out on the play-offs. Then, of course, he scored the opener and assisted the winner in the 2-1 play-off final win over Blackpool.

Cole doesn’t get enough praise for the commitment he has shown to the club, either. After the club’s promotion, the striker revealed he had opted to take a 50% pay-cut in order to help with the club’s finances while out of the top-flight. For someone that has been regularly criticised in a West Ham shirt, that is a decent thing to have done.

He also has to endure endless abuse from idiots on Twitter and he has conducted himself well, only reacting to a couple of tweets that may have got him in trouble if seen as anything other than banter. He regularly keeps the fans informed about how training is going and has tweeted his love for the club in the past.

Further more, upon the high-profile arrival of Andy Carroll at the end of August, Cole told the Sun: “I don’t want to leave. I have told the board that I want to stay for the rest of my career. I want to stay and help out the club anyway way I can.”

For a player that doesn’t have 100% of the fans behind him to pledge his future to the club like that shows his commitment is unrivaled and there are fans out there that need to recognise that.

Cole may not be one of the best strikers to have ever had the privileged to wear claret and blue, but he deserves a lot more respect than what he receives from some fans. His contribution to the team goes unnoticed at times but if you look closely you’ll see a man who is always giving his all for the team.

His performance against Chelsea proved just that, too. A goal, an assist and an all round good performance, which will surely go some way in keeping Andy Carroll out to the team – when he returns after injury – if he can take that into the next few games and beyond.

Loyal footballers are a rarity these days, so Carlton Cole should be praised for that rather than be hounded by the fans of the club he is so evidently devoted to.

What do you think? Does Carlton Cole deserve some of the criticism he receives from fans, or do supporters fail to see exactly what he has done for the club since signing from Chelsea? Let me know your thoughts below.